Small Biz Stress : Frustration
A client called me over the weekend and he asked me, “Mike, what am doing wrong in my business?” He complained that his employees are not engaged; that they don’t care about his business. He talked about his training process with employees and that they still are not getting it after months of training. This client had been doing everything right. He had planned for the business, written a business plan, done the marketing research, and was generally prepared when he opened his business a year ago. My client continued, “Mike, I am so frustrated, I have been open for a year now and I’m not making any money yet” he exclaimed. “I though that I would be into a money-making rhythm by now, but the business just isn’t at that point. I see other business owners who are doing very well. They are buying cars, and going on vacations and I ask myself, why not me?” he said. Although he was nearly breaking even in his 6 employee restaurant, he was very frustrated and feeling isolated. “I can’t talk to my family, because they don’t understand. I can’t talk to my spouse because it ends up in a fight because she just wants me to stop all of this and just get a “normal” job. I can’t talk to my employees because they don’t care.” he said. “I just feel alone everyday. It’s very depressing. I didn’t sign up for this.”
The Stress of Owning a Small Business: Isolation and Loneliness.
It has often been said that It’s lonely at the top. There is a major paradigm shift that happens when you become the boss. There is great responsibility that is assumed when you go from signing the back of the check, to signing the front. You have become a capitalist and are working toward financial prosperity every day. Your friends won’t understand. They think that you are working way too hard. Your quest is different from the other 99% of the population. You feel alone. Guess what? You are not alone. These feelings of stress, and isolation are real and I want you to know that every business owner has these feelings. It’s normal. Many come to visit with me and they unload their stress and emotions on me. As a business advisor and entrepreneur myself, I’m one of the few people who understand what they are going through. I have considered opening a hotline: Call 1-800-GRIPE2MIKE. If I charged by the minute I could have a great business model :)
Small Business Owners Stress: Appearances are Deceiving
I often hear that everyone around the small business owner is doing great and prospering, however, that is not always true. I have to remind them that things are not always what they seem. I know many business owners who drive very expensive cars in order to present a public persona. Some of these owners are leasing these high-priced rides with monthly payments in excess of $1700. Just because they drive it, does’t mean they own it. Don’t assume that a fancy car means prosperity. I was at an event during the recent recession when one such client approached me. When I asked how her business was doing, she lowered her voice and said: “Mike, I only have $18 in my bank account and no business in process. I am freaking out on the inside - I don’t know how i’m going to pay my mortgage, or car payment this month or even pay for food.” She had a booth at the event which was paid for months in advance, yet she was there putting on a brave face to the crowd. I have often wondered how many people attend these events who are in the same situation as her; concealing eminent failure with a positive smile. It reminds me of a line from a church hymn: “Somewhere is the heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see.” The bottom line is that everyone has a different deal, even if it’s not visible to the public.
Overcoming Stress Through Collaboration
It is important that you find someone to talk to. Whether this person is a mentor, or business advisor or just a friend, it is important to have someone that you can be vulnerable to. Isn’t that the thing that makes this difficult, you may not feel comfortable being openly venerable to your employees or your family or friends. So, you need a shoulder to cry on - sometimes literally. Keep reminding yourself that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side of the fence. Meet up with other small business owners, or join a networking group. The important thing is that you don’t isolate yourself, but rather put yourself in a collaboration mentality. Remember that you see things differently than other people, after all, that different perception is the reason that you got into business in the first place. Right? And if you hit your breaking point, don’t forget to call: Call 1-800-GRIPE2MIKE.
PHOTO CREDIT: Evil Erin via Flickr, Creative Commons License, Some Rights Reserved
Manage your Small Business better