Running your own small business can be hugely rewarding, but for many SME owners, having sole responsibility for failure can take its toll. Fatigue, financial stress, loneliness, and endless demands can trigger mental health issues in business owners. Depending on the type of business, challenges often include:
- Regularly putting in long hours and working intensely to meet the demands of your business or to get your business off the ground
- Undertaking business-related activities outside of work, such as responding to business emails and calls
- Feeling isolated with not always having someone to share business worries with or with someone who can understand the demands of running a small business through experience
- Managing ongoing cash flow and financial issues, including chasing invoices and feeling concerned about where the next job is coming from
- Having multiple roles as well as managing the additional demands of administrative and government regulations – on top of everything else
- Feeling responsible for yourself and others such as family and employees who are being involved in the business to ensure it’s successful
These challenges could test your ability to run your business and affect your employees, suppliers, customers and family. While it can be difficult to find time for yourself when you run your own business, it is important to look after yourself. Here are some tips for preventing and dealing with the blues in the workplace.
- Make time for enjoyable activities
- Make exercise, sleep and eating healthily a priority.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
- Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t
- Take regular breaks and holidays
- Set times when your phone and emails are turned off
- Talk to someone. It could be a family member, friend, a fellow business owner, life coach, your GP or a psychologist
- Delegate more tasks, hire more staff, say no to any extra work that is going to ramp up your stress levels and consider firing any clients who are difficult to deal with
- Access the (usually free) resources mental health-promoting organisations. Heads Up and the Black Dog Institute both have excellent workplace mental health programs and services. BeyondBlue and Lifeline can also provide support if you’re feeling vulnerable
- Assistance can be found from the most unexpected quarters. The ATO, for example, may well cut you some slack if you let them know you are experiencing mental health issues
As a manager or small business owner, you also play a critical role in creating a mentally healthy workplace for your staff members. Your employees will often look to you for leadership, guidance and support. Whether or not your workplace currently sees mental health as a priority, there are many things you can do to contribute.
To show support to your staff, it is important to increase your personal knowledge about mental health and be aware of the support available. Once understood, it is a great idea to then educate your staff and yourself about mental health in the workplace to give them the skills and confidence to approach someone that they may be worried about. Starting the conversation and talking about mental health in the workplace can make a real difference in creating a working environment where people feel comfortable to seek support if they need to.
For more information on what you can do to make your workplace mentally healthy, check out the brochure at Heads Up.
There is nothing business owners can do to guarantee good mental health. That is why it makes sense to prepare for a worst-case scenario. If you structure your business in such a way that you are considered an employee of it, you can be eligible for workers’ compensation for mental health issues (if you can show a direct correlation between your anxiety or depression and your work). If you’d like to make sure you’ve got adequate coverage, you can arrange to talk to one of our East West Insurance Brokers today.
*Please note all insurance policies have exclusions. Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement or Policy Wording before deciding whether the insurance policy meets your needs.