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Friday, January 8, 2010

Top 5 Small Business Mistakes that Create Stress and Overwhelm

If you're like most small business owners that want to make a difference in the world, I bet you have a beautiful vision and brilliant ideas. You are committed to doing business differently and making real change. Unfortunately, the day-to-day operations cancreate stress and overwhelm, and worse, can weigh you down and prevent you from making the impact you so desire.

It's often difficult to "know what you don't know" in the midst of running a small business. You are inundated with a huge number of activities and roles to keep your business functioning. This probably creates stress and constant worry--about getting it all done, being profitable and creating a sustainable business.

Let's discuss some mistakes that small business owners make so that you can avoid the pain, frustration, stress and overwhelm in your business. I've gathered the top five (although I may have made at least 200) for you:

1. Being Unclear With What You Truly Want in Your Business

Lack of clarity in your business can create immediate overwhelm. Many business owners are clear about the lifestyle they want (i.e. greater flexibility, more work-life balance, traveling), but often fail to have a specific intention and a plan to get there. If you feel uncertain and unclear, your business can feel like a daily struggle. It's essential to have a picture of your business that includes all your requirements.Create the vision first, then build the business to fit into the vision. (Most people build a business then realize it's not what they intended for their life.)

2. Not Having a Business Plan, or Having an Underutilized One

Similar to having clarity, you'll want to also have a crystal-clear business plan. Without a plan, you're very busy but may lack direction and an end goal. In my experience, over 75% of the small businesses I worked with didn't have a business plan. Only when you have crafted a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly plan (with a set of clear endpoints and metrics) can you take the daily actions to fulfillingyour business goals. Allow the clarity of your plan to create more ease (when you understand what needs to be done, you will naturally feel more at ease).

3. Limited Planning Time

When you operate your business with little or no planning time, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed rather than in control. You become reactive as you "put out fires," problem solve, and complete your work each day. Rather than planning for the future, you end up working in the business, not on it (principle drawn from Michael Gerber's book The E-Myth). Give yourself the gift of time and space to plan. You'll feel great, reduce your stress and be able to identify those things needed tocreate the best result.

4. Lack of Self-Care and Personal Time

Most business owners feel they have to sacrifice their personal lives while they are growing their businesses. Unfortunately, the lack of self-care and personal time can actually signal the demise of one's business. As you shift away from sacrifice and move toward self-care, you'll be pleasantly surprised. There's a direct correlation between your personal health and the health ofyour business . Simply put, if you are overwhelmed, stressed and not vital at work, you are not bringing your best self forward and your performance will inevitably slip. Build in daily self-care time to renew and revitalize yourself (i.e. music, walking, napping) and put them in your calendar as non-negotiable. You'll feel better and get more done with less effort!

5. Losing the Passion for Your Business

When your business becomes passion-less, every task becomes stressful. You feel pushed to work rather than energized and pulled by your passion. This takes a great toll on you personally as well as on your business. Take a moment to remember your initial reasons for starting the business and what lit you up in the first place (i.e. tomake a difference , to offer a new product, to bring your creativity to the world), then figure out how you can add the spice back in. Commit to outsourcing the "un-fun" activities and allow yourself to feel good aboutyour business again. This will allow you to decrease your stress and will naturally create better results.

I recently recognized the power of addressing these common mistakes with my client Anita, an international PR firm director. She realized that while she had completed an initialbusiness plan three years ago, she rarely ever looked at it or conducted her business around it. When we revisited the plan, she reconnected with her passion and commitment to being a socially responsible company. She understood how many critical pieces from her original plan were missing from her current business actions. After she realized that, she was able to chart a new path with less stress and overwhelm, and much more joy and purpose.

I wish you great clarity and ease in your business so that you can make the difference you truly desire. May you know joy, may you know peace and may you work with ease.

Source: Free Articles
About the Author:
As President of Work With Ease (, Athena has worked with over 300 start-up and small to mid-sized businesses globally to increase productivity, profitability and achieve a sense of ease at work. She integrates practical business principles with mind-body medicine.

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