It’s the little things that get you – Stress

Stress.  It’s a quite (or not so quiet) constant in business.

The Early Years

In the first few years, you’re always thinking ‘will we make enough to cover the bills? How long before I run out of money?’.   It’s an intense refrain, one that continues for days and hours till you finally make it.  Then you start wondering if you’ll make enough to pay yourself a salary.  It’s incredibly stressful, and sometimes you wonder why you decided to get into this business at all.

For most, this period lasts 1 to 2 years, 3 at the outside before you ‘breakeven’. And for a moment, there’s euphoria.  Then the stress comes back.

The Growing Years

It’s an equilibrium that is made up of a minimal salary & expenses.  Of course, no one wants to earn a minimal salary and that equilibrium isn’t stable anyway.  If you’re lucky, it moves in the right direction and you get even more business.  Of course, that business just adds more work and suddenly you need to hire.

And a new kind of stress comes – that of people.  It’s one thing when you only had to worry about yourself, about your own salary. It’s another when you realise you have paychecks to meet.  If things were slow one month, I could cut my pay and no one was the wiser.  You can’t do that to employees so you suddenly need a reserve.  One that is significantly larger than your previous one.

Then you realise that you keep running out of stock because business has picked up so much.  Now you need to carry more stock – a larger investment in capital.  More stress, as you scramble to find the money to devote to increasing stock.  You can’t touch your salary reserve, so you have to find it somewhere else.  Maybe a loan or line-of-credit? Maybe you just short-change yourself (again) for a few months.  Either way, stress.

And on it goes.  It never ends.

Coping

As a business owner (and human); the only thing you can do is learn to deal with the stress.  Whether it’s meditation, exercise, talking about it, learning to partition or just going out and enjoying your life – it’s a necessary must.  I think part of the reason most business owners fail is because they burn out; by not learning to cope with the daily stress of running a business.  It’s not easy at all and if you’re prone to ulcers; you might consider avoiding being an entrepreneur.