How to combat the stress of starting a new business

By: Matt Bird

Date: 8 June 2011

Life can be stressful at the best of times, whether it’s caused by work, family or just day-to-day activities. Indeed, recent research suggests one-in-ten British workers are stressed from the time they awake to the time they go back to bed.

It’s a wonder at all that anyone would want to start their own business in such a stressful world. But what steps can you take to minimise the inevitable stress once that first period of enthusiasm has been drained and the first challenges arrive at your doorstop?

1 Manage your paperwork

One of the most depressing realisations is that invoices and bookkeeping won’t sort themselves. While not the most glamorous of tasks, it’s amazing how much stress you can relieve simply by keeping on top of the paperwork.

There are not many more soul-destroying moments than finishing a hard and challenging day, only to cast your eyes over a mountain of paperwork you know needs to be done. Make sure to include admin in your schedule; never let it mount up and you will soon cut out one of the major causes of stress in a start-up.

2 Find a sympathetic ear

People don’t realise how lonely the start-up world can be. With no one to celebrate the significant business achievements with – or discuss problems – you can quickly feel isolated. This can be compounded by family craving more attention (which is in no way a bad thing). It’s unavoidable that the first few years of a new business will dominate your time and energies, so it is crucial to minimise the adverse effects on relationships at home.

Having a business mentor, or a friend as a sounding board (someone who perhaps runs his/her own firm), gives you support and a third party’s perspective, and helps to maintain your sanity.

3 Manage your cashflow

Start-ups are not just lonely from a personal stand point, but lonely on the financial side, too. Once cash runs short it really is amazing just how quickly a bank manager’s interest can change.

Teach yourself how to forecast and plan your business’s cashflow. Not only will this skill get honed with experience, adding another tool to your skill set, but it is also a brilliant way to limit stress.  This ability to maximise return on investments and budget for future activities has a knock-on effect in so many business areas that I really cannot oversell its importance.

4 Remove technology stress

Technology is a big cause of stress. It’s great till it goes wrong. A survey in May 2011, of 3,000 workers, suggests that slow internet, computers crashing and the printer running out of ink or paper sees people feeling harassed for an average of 56 minutes each day.

Many entrepreneurs aren’t interested in how technology works and are unlikely to have an in-house  IT person. The options are to find a user forum via Google where you can pose your dilemma and seek DIY help, or hire a computer specialist, again located via a search. Do ask for references and check whether the person/workshop charges by the hour or by the job as sorting IT problems can be very time-intensive. And back up everything externally and create a “restore point” before handing over your kit.

Nothing in life worth having is easy, and you’ll ultimately need to work harder than you ever have before to make it succeed. Following my suggestions above will help you limit the damage this stress can cause and make that future seem a little bit brighter.

Have you found any specific ways to limit your stress? Something that could be of benefit to others? Comment below and let us all try to make the start-up environment just that little bit more comfortable.

Matt Bird of printer cartridge supplier, StinkyInk

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