Making conscious choices about how you treat your body and mind will greatly influence how you respond to challenges and be the recipe for success in small business, writes Anastasia Massouras.
Remember when you decided to start your own fitness business, fuelled by the prospect of freedom, flexibility and unrestricted earning potential? The excitement of choosing the hours you worked, taking holidays when you wanted, for as long as you wanted.
Now compare this to the reality: working up to 80 hours per week, struggling with cash flow or financial expertise, dealing with mental health and wellbeing issues, and managing casual staff and their issues. These are the most common challenges facing many small business owners today.
Statistics from the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman show that 97% of Australia’s economy is made up of small business with no more than twenty employees. Yet more than 60% of these fail within their first three years, and the odds are stacked against those that continue.
In addition, in 2019, the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health Report, conducted by The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, revealed one in five working Australians reported experiencing mental illness, with evidence suggesting psychological distress is most acute for sole traders. Fleeting instances of excitement, achievement and growth are often buried among feelings of isolation, fatigue and ongoing financial stress. There is, however, a way to bring happiness back to your work.
Bring happy back
Just as you have achieved success in your business and life thus far, you can achieve further success with the right support, education, tools and strategies surrounding your health. Extending your hand for help is the first step towards gaining a sense of control over your environment. Knowing you can change yourself, your business and your life is crucial: not just to survive, but also to progress. Silent suffering is the silent killer of a business.
Your mindset plays a huge role here. Your perception of your reality powerfully influences the decisions you make in business. It helps you move from talking about what you wish for to actually taking steps, and doing the stuff that will transform your life. This kind of growth brings feelings of freedom, power, authority, motivation and encouragement. This is a tipping point in your business. You can breathe again and start to find joy in why you do what you do each day. You shift from feeling overwhelmed and helpless to hopeful and in control.
Running your own small business is a 24/7 activity, which is why you need to be mentally healthy, fit and strong. There will always be pressure: it will never go away. There will always be setbacks, failures, and obstacles. What counts is how you deal with that pressure, with those challenges. It’s essential to move away from simply reacting to events and toward responding to events. It is also important to learn how to prevent stress or adversity that you may be experiencing in one aspect of your life from negatively impacting other areas.
Taking conscious choices each day about what to eat, when to exercise, and how to switch off from work and on for home is the recipe for success and stamina in small business. As Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike, said, ‘There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.’
Maintaining your own health and that of your business requires time, consistent effort, commitment and care, but it is an investment that will reap dividends.
Anastasia is a leader, facilitator and coach helping small business owners and teams to overcome barriers that prevent growth and success. She is the CEO of Work Happy, which provides wellbeing and employee assistance programs and tailored advice for corporates, as well as the founder and CEO of Pure Insights, a consultancy specialising in mental health intervention.