mental health

For this third instalment in our blog series on sources of support, we’ll be focussing on mental health tips for small business owners. But why is this so important? A particular statistic from the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards’ Mental Health in Entrepreneurship survey (2018) is a great starting point. 55% of survey respondents said that running a business had had a negative effect on their mental health. Are you one of them?

In making the decision to run a business, you’re also making the decision to step on to a roller coaster. There will be huge highs – there’s no doubt about that – but the lows can be of equal magnitude. One day you’ll be feeling on top of the world, but then the next, it will feel quite the opposite. So to ride the roller coaster successfully (and do so again, and again and again!), you need to look after yourself. And you need to look after your mental health.

So to help you to do that, here are our mental health tips for small business owners.

1. Find your people

Finding your people is so important, particularly when you run your business alone. A survey conducted by CEO Magazine in 2017 reported that a huge 73% of small business owners had felt lonely and isolated at one point or another. This feeling can be created for myriad reasons, ranging from simply not working ‘with’ anyone, to not knowing where to turn when you’re stuck or need to talk. So when it comes to mental health tips for small business owners, we can’t stress this one strongly enough!

In general terms, your people don’t have to be from your own industry. They just need to get you. To understand what you’re going through. And be ready to celebrate the highs with you, while supporting you through the lows on that small business roller coaster!

Chloe and Anna offer such a fantastically safe and supportive community, that I now always know I can get help whenever I need it. Whether I have a question, have had a tough day, want some expert input on a particular topic, or just want a chat – they’ve got it covered. Thank you for having my back and making me feel part of a team.

2. Disconnect

In today’s society this is another absolute fundamental. It’s so easy for our lives to be consumed by scrolling, liking and commenting… and when we run a small business, with follower numbers, engagement rates and click-throughs. Social media can take over our lives, and it’s incredibly easy to get rather obsessed! And this, of course, does no favours for our mental health.

The more time you spend online, the harder it gets to create boundaries between your business and personal lives. And you find yourself always ‘on’. It becomes nigh on impossible ‘not’ to respond that customer who sends you a DM in the late evening. Or the person who posts a question on your Facebook page who can’t possibly wait a while for an acknowledgement. Or perhaps even more challengingly, you just can’t stop looking at that competitor who seems to be doing so much better than you, even though you have similar products and do similar things!

But actually those boundaries are really important. Those customers and social media posts can actually wait a while. And no. The fact that your competitor has more Insta followers than you doesn’t automatically mean that you’re doing it wrong.

So if you’re suffering from a little (or a lot) of social media overwhelm, it’s time to challenge yourself and set some boundaries. Schedule yourself some time for a digital detox. This could be for a solid few days, setting times in the day when you check your accounts, or deciding to switch off completely between certain times of the day/evening.

3. Change your scene

When you run a small business you work. A lot. And if you work in the same place all of the time, it can feel like the walls are closing in. Especially if you’re going through a difficult time. So change your scene! Instead of working in a home office, why not take yourself to a good cafe or another space with good WiFi for the day? We do this a lot, and can often be found in our local garden centre cafe! You could also try co-working events like the ones we run – it’s incredible how fun (and productive!) these events can be.

In addition to changing your scene, another great mental health tip is to get away from your desk, get outside, and get moving! Even a short walk, and the break it provides, can make such a huge difference to your mental health.

4. A team sport

When we start out in business, our instinct is that we have to do everything on our own, whether it’s in our comfort zone or not! And by doing so, we cause ourselves a lot of additional stress. Instead, it’s better to acknowledge our weaker areas, and put plans in place to mitigate them.

So take some time to think about what parts of your business you could delegate. Consider the areas in which you could upskill, and by doing so, give yourself a confidence boost. You could also consider working with a mentor or a coach to give you the guidance and reassurance you need to move forward.

5. Self care

We’ve talked about this many times on our blog, and it’s a fundamental part of the Tabono philosophy. And as such, it forms the core of all of our mental health tips for small business owners. Only by looking after yourself first will you be able to truly look after a business. And at the core of that ‘self’ is your mental health.

So think about the things that make you feel good and things that give you a boost. And schedule them in to make sure they happen! Even if it’s only for a short time each day, commit to it. You, and your mental health, will feel so much better for it.

We hope that these tips are useful for you in looking after your own mental health, but don’t forget. If you’re really struggling, there are also a range of professional support services available, such as those listed here.