How to overcome overwhelm as a small business owner
Starting a new business can be the most exciting time of your life but it can also be extremely challenging. Every element of your new business is down to you; you’re full of ideas, your head is spinning but you don’t actually know where to start! And let’s not forget the niggling doubt that you might fail if you don’t get things right first time… If this all sounds familiar, you’re not alone. All entrepreneurs and start-up business owners suffer from one very common denominator – it’s what is known as ‘business overwhelm’.
But don’t worry – business overwhelm is absolutely normal and it can be overcome. If you can spend time developing ways of working that reduce this feeling you will be far more productive and far more successful.
So, here’s how to turn your overwhelm into positive actions…
1.Take a day out.
The first thing you need to do is STOP! Schedule a day off in your calendar and find a place to work where you will be undisturbed and somewhere you feel comfortable and creative.
2. Revisit your WHY?
Think about why you started the business in the first place. What is it that you are trying to achieve, what kind of business do you want to build and what kind of life do you want to live? Going back to basics will help you refocus. You may have got carried away with a whole load of new ideas but you need to park these. Write random ideas down in the back of a notebook – you can always come back to them later, but they will only cloud your ability to get things done.
3. Create goals.
Write down what you want to achieve in the next 12 months. How do you want to grow your business, how many customers would you like, what turnover and profit would you like to achieve? Now consider what you need to do to achieve these goals: find new customers, raise awareness of your business, make sure you have your legal, insurance and accounting practices in place.
4. Set up a monthly calendar.
What will you need to do each month to achieve your goals?
Each month there will be priority actions such as invoicing, chasing outstanding payments and making payments to suppliers. These are crucial for cash flow so add these to your calendar for each month.
5. Treat your marketing seriously.
The actions you take or don’t take to market your business will be as important as managing cash flow in the success or failure of your business. There should be a marketing activity added to every week of your monthly calendar as an absolute minimum. If you can get into the routine of adding a planned marketing activity each day this will make a huge difference moving your business forward. This may be spending strategic (not wasted) time on your social media channels, attending networking events or creating a free piece of PR.
6. Spring clean your email. For years my inbox looked like a scene from ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. I wouldn’t have believed how much better I felt and how much overwhelm was relieved after I spent a morning filing, deleting and organising my inbox.
7. Create a great working routine.
This should include:
Write down three main tasks you want to achieve during the week. These are the foundations for all your activities for the week – stick to these religiously and learn to re-schedule to say NO to things that will not help you to achieve your goals.
In order to get your weekly plan done, you will need to focus on each day. Write down three activities you want to complete for the next day, focus on one of these until it’s finished or at a point, you’re happy with.
Try not turning your emails on until lunchtime, then reply to all the mail in one go. File and flag the ones that need following up later, then close your email down until 4pm when you revisit, reply and close.
Be social media savvy
Choose a time of day when you are going to be active on social media. It is so easy to get lost in the wormhole and find yourself an hour later having done nothing constructive!
So open up the post content you have prepared, reply to any comments, be social and then close it back down: don’t be tempted to leave it open on your phone or desktop.
Take a break
During the day, go for a walk, sit in the garden or just chill. This is your reward so enjoy it and you’ll find that this is often the time when you become creative. Start to think about opportunities and new ideas for your business.
Break it down
If you have a larger project such as a website then break this down into bitesize pieces. Add these as one of the three daily tasks and aim to complete one portion per day.
Review and reflect
Review your progress at the end of each day and plan the next day in advance, moving tasks forward if they need completing. This means you start your day knowing exactly where your focus is going to be and you are able to make an impact immediately.
Final thought ... don't panic! You are not alone there are hundreds of thousands of business owners who are going through the same feeling of business overwhelm. Find ways to meet other entrepreneurs and business owners in social media groups, networking events or join a mastermind group.
Be clear and have a purpose ... I know you will be fine!
Alison Teare is a qualified, marketer with more than twenty-five years’ business and management experience, in both the public and private sectors, at local and global levels.
A social media expert, Alison is a trainer and speaker who regularly provides advice to businesses to guide their social media and marketing policies and strategy. She developed an integrated Social Media Management programme which enables businesses to co-ordinate a successful implement their own sustainable social media presence. Alison also mentors entrepreneurs and small business owners, helping to reduce overwhelm and providing purpose and clarity in their business development and marketing.