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Protecting your mental health whilst owning a small business

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Much is being written and spoken now on the subject of mental health. I just listened to an excellent podcast about the impact in large companies of mental sickness. I read regularly about the declining health of our teenage minds due to social media. My personal experience is that of the challenges in business ownership, call it entrepreneurship, or even self-employment, this sector of society are not immune to the issues and problems of mental health.

Being a self-employed business owner can be one of the most vulnerable in society. Anyone who is self-employed has to work extremely hard, consistently expand their knowledge and adapt whilst looking after their personal life as well as the business. Rarely able to delegate, always chasing the next client so they can pay their bills; many often talk of the day they suffered an enormous loss of a loved one, or the shock of bad news and yet they still carried on that day with a mask on their face and met a client, determined not to add financial disaster to the pains they are already coping with.

Previously, becoming a business owner was for the few, employment was the normal option. Business is drastically different now, starting a business is available to anyone who has an idea and inevitably they learn the hard way how difficult and varied the challenges to success are. Life is now very competitive, easily disrupted by new technology and new business models and highly demanding through the diverse digital and technical skills needed to market and be productive as well as financially competitive. The decline in government support for startups coupled with the loneliness of working by yourself can see the pressure mounting for entrepreneurs. As isolation grows, self-worth and belief can be put at risk which can directly impact drive and motivation - two critical attributes to any self-starting business owners.

Business is taught and guided as a set of processes and skills. Sales, Marketing and Finance- the key disciplines to achieve success. The area that usually gets forgotten about is the vulnerabilities in our personality, the care of our well-being and the way to check in on ourselves during the misfortunes in life and business.

It took a lot of broken days and painful experiences for me to realise the importance of knowing my own definition of what success, happiness and ambition meant to me. I also learned that there were two types of depression, mine was the type that didn’t exhaust you and keep you in bed, instead, it was dangerously energetic and meant I just couldn’t stop. We live in a highly transparent and connected world with the danger of ‘comparing ourselves’ with the lives of others and getting drawn into thinking we lack as individuals, this connected world is a risk to our emotional wellbeing on a daily basis online.

Becoming aware of circumstances that can impact your resilience and being mindful on how to protect yourself from certain situations will enable you to manage traits of your personality that could affect your client negotiations and leave you feeling worthless. Improving self-awareness and learning how to manage challenging moments is critical to aiding your personal development and will allow you to remain in control of your dreams and desires.

Business is hard, and it is beautiful, this roller coaster is the ride of your life. Things happen to us that cause us ‘good stress’ or ‘bad stress’. The business world is a perplexing ecosystem of people and everyone has their own story, some hide it, others are more open. The more you take control of the life you want to lead and the business career you feel works for you, the better your chances of a sustainable and successful business life. Take care of your mind, not just your finance and roles in life, a strong mind, creates a strong business, you will know when you have it and you will love it.

 

About the author

Penny Power started leading conversations in business wellness in 1998 when she founded the world’s first business online community, Ecademy. She has been a business owner, speaker and writer for 20 years. She was awarded her OBE by the Queen in January 2014 for her contribution to Entrepreneurship in the Social Digital World. Penny’s latest book, ‘Business is Personal’ launches in 2019. In the book, Penny discusses the importance of us holding onto our own beliefs and definition of the life we want to lead and live, in a world of ‘comparing and despairing’ that has been created by the overuse and dependence on social media. Penny boldly opens up about the trials of her own life and the observations she has of the way we are all being sucked into believing we lack, rather than having the confidence in our own values, skills and dreams. Penny is keen to ensure that business start-ups, self-employed, business owners and employed people are also guided and supported in a world of communication that not only impacts the mental health of teenagers, but very much impacts working adults.