Stress and the Small Business Owner

If you came to this article expecting a magical cure you came to the wrong place. Stress is a fact of life in small business where the intent is to grow the business.  If you are satisfied with where your business is in terms of market, size and profitability then many of your decisions have already been made and you have developed a system of delegation and are not attempting to control every aspect of the business.  Too many owners are under the misconception that micro-management is a must since it is there business.  Now managing a business and micro-managing one are quite different.  An owner should know the ins and outs of his (her) business and be very familiar with all aspects of the business. However, if you try to handle all  the sales, customer service, production if there is any or purchasing plus personnel issues you will never have enough time to do it right or to do anything else.

What is the key?  Just that! Determining what are the keys to success in your business.  Maybe it is the number of customers each day or week and so you have to insure that you get the word out.  Maybe it is done by demographics or by geography or by some other method of selection and thus you hit so many households or people and you get a certain percentage through the door.  Maybe it is calls on business to sell your service and you know if you call on 100 you will get 10 to listen and 2-3 will buy.  So now the sales or contact keys are establish and either an employee or maybe third parties can report their contacts to you and as long as it meets or exceeds your expectations, once less worry.  But wait, numbers are dropping?  Why?  Is it a stale effort?  Does it need re-energizing? Re-Vamping?  More of it?  Temporary?  So clearly periodically you would need to re-visit the program and your expectations but not every day.  So determine the regularity of the analysis and look to something else.

No one seems to treat my money carefully enough so I do all the buying and have to check everything.  Stop!  Are you hiring the right people?  As I have said in previous posts are you going to cheap?  Have you made your expectations clear enough and established policies and procedures that reinforce the methods? Take a look at levels of spending authority….  If you have established budgets that are consistent with the plan then it will lead you into what authority for whom….

Personnel issues, wow do you have to handle them all.  Even if you have a shop or such, can you not have shift leaders or managers responsible for insuring they have coverage and listen to all the attempts to stay home?  Remember it is back to hiring the right people and being clear about expectations and the policies and procedures which are applied equally.

Customer complaints are an area where you certainly want to be in the mix but not until others have had a chance to satisfy the customer.  Think about the complaints, many times it is because they were not treated right in their mind (employee training resolves this issue as well as the way the leadership deals with each issue).  Sometimes they just want to be heard or so many minor things that do not need to be a distraction.

Cycle back to the keys that is where you spend your time.  Businesses grow because the employees (irrespective of their ownership position) connect with prospects or customers on an ongoing basis.  It is a relationship that has to be nurtured and one where the seller (you) have to constantly be in front of your customer at the right time or at least they know you have what they need.  Retail operations revolve around location, the right inventory and employees who can connect the customer with a need that brought them there originally.  In wholesale or manufacturing it is more about finding who are target and the correct decision maker and again satisfying a need.

Stress is what we do to ourselves for many reasons!  You probably have heard the expression, “They Can’t Eat You”.  Many sales people and debt collectors will use all their extensive training to convince you to buy or pay. Guilt, intimidation, lying, misrepresenting procedures are all tools of the trade for them.  However, what if you just ignore it or should I say them?  But they keep on?  Their job is to get you talking and to move you from defensive to cooperative.  They take it one step at a time and they will get you to buy in at each step by asking you to agree. You can feel the stress just piling up!  However, just say no or goodbye and what happens?  Your shoulders relax and you breathe again.  My point is you let them get to you.  Don’t let someone bring the fight to you.  No, you take the fight to them!   You might find this funny but the most effective way to resolve any dispute is just like the Bible says in Matthew 18.  No gossip.  No stress.  No Lies. Just direct honest talk face-to-face.  You look whoever in the eye explains where you were coming from and the issues listen to his side and go from there.

Reduce your Stress!

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