If you’ve taken the leap and started your own business, life as a solopreneur can be difficult. Before stress levels reach an all-time high, it’s time to start prioritising your wellbeing to ensure your business succeeds.
Here are some practical tips you can use to reduce stress and improve your wellbeing.
Pinpoint where your stress is coming from
The standard advice for solopreneur-related stress is to talk to someone – which we’ll cover in the next step.
But it’s important to look within first.
Whilst it may feel daunting initially, it can be cathartic to write down what’s triggering you to sit in stress, as opposed to suffering with your thoughts racing throughout the day.
Try compartmentalise your thoughts and ask yourself some guiding questions:
- Is this process increasing feelings of loneliness?
- Am I under financial strain?
- Do I need to expand my network?
- Has my passion for the cause gone since I turned it into a startup?
- Am I struggling with working on my side hustle from home?
By writing a list of pressure points, you may get to the bottom of what you need to tackle, instead of suppressing the stress.
It might be one or more areas of your business that are impacting your wellbeing; the following steps will help you to manage and juggle work, life and your new venture.
Talk to someone
Your loved ones know you better than anyone else – but instead of letting them in, you might be shutting them out. Don’t assume that just because they aren’t in business with you, they wouldn’t understand what you’re going through.
Remember that some elements of what you’re experiencing could be relatable – lack of sleep, financial worries or the pressures of working from home aren’t exclusive to solopreneurs!
If getting things off your chest with a friend is what you need, you may find your stress levels reduce a little if you ask them for advice, or simply just to listen.
Expand your network
Whilst talking to your family and friends might improve things at home, you need someone who just gets it – no questions asked.
You might be a solopreneur when it comes to running your business, but you’re not the only one going it alone. Startups magazine reported a rise in new businesses this year, at a rate of 6.5 percent from last year – meaning there’s a whole host of founders experiencing the same things you’re going through.
Wellbeing can be a tricky topic to broach when you’re networking and everything is centred on numbers and successes. But it’s important to connect with other solopreneurs and foster a community of individuals going through a collective experience.
Be honest about how you’re feeling – you may say something that another entrepreneur has been wanting to express for a long time.
For more advice on how to build a community around your brand, read our article.
Utilise the latest technology
If part of your stress derives from keeping on top of day-to-day tasks on your own, it could be time to expand your team.
However, if you’re not in a position where you can or want to welcome others into the business, why not look into how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help?
Love it or hate it, AI is integrated into our lives in one way or another. Many of us use it daily, without giving it much thought – from voice recognition to face ID on our phones. There’s no doubt that it’s here to stay, so why not use technology to your advantage?
AI can be used for generating content through software like Adobe Firefly, marketing automation through platforms such as Hubspot, and even aid in powerful accounting solutions via companies such as Sage.
Whatever you need it for, AI can help to bring visions to life, produce results quickly, and work away in the background to allow you to get on with other tasks, or simply take your foot off the accelerator.
You could even use virtual assistants to remind you when it’s time to take a break away from your venture!`
Be strict with your time management
If you want to prioritise growing your business whilst working on your wellbeing, you need to be strict with your time management.
Staying glued to your laptop well into the night is affecting your sleep, leading you to feel disorganised the next day. You’re double booking meetings, missing important family events – and the cycle continues.
This is a feeling Sina Sadrzadeh, founder of Wing recognises all too well. We spoke to him about how to manage your wellbeing when running your startup from home, where he advised, “I think to-do lists, and being strict about timings on each task is important. Once it hits a certain time, I’ll stop doing work completely.”
Using to-do lists to compartmentalise your tasks can help you to manage your time better, along with setting up calendar alerts for meetings, and scheduling time to take a proper break in the middle of the day.
If you feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to relax and prioritise your wellbeing, look at your calendar and see how you can adapt. For example, would waking up 30 minutes earlier and cycling or walking to work lead to a better state of mind?
Sina adds that for founders working from home, time management is even more important; “It’s tempting to work religiously, but that’s no good in the long term […] Being able to separate your to-do list into segments so you have specific times to focus on certain tasks allows your mind to adjust – rather than switching from one thing to the other and feeling overwhelmed.”
Invest in work-free time
Managing your time more efficiently will enable you to invest in time away from your enterprise. If the hours calling investors, working on your pitch or delving into your accounts are all too overwhelming, you probably need to invest in work-free time.
Ryan Panchoo, founder of Borough 22 advises taking set times throughout the year to step away from your business. “A goal for me every three months is to take a week off. I stop orders, and tell my suppliers. Book yourself a massage, go to a nice restaurant, do anything for yourself – because if you don’t, you build up all that stress, anxiety, and when you least expect it, something will go wrong,” he says.
Investing in work-free time can be daunting when you’re a solopreneur, but it can also prevent you from burning out entirely. Ryan adds:
“Remember: if you keel over, who’s going to run your business? You have to look after yourself and step away, have some separation. This might be hard to do, because you have to have a strong work ethic and drive […] But you need to take that drive, and use it to know when to stop, pause and take a breather. Do something for yourself, celebrate what you’ve achieved already.”
When you’re on the verge of a business breakthrough, it can be tempting to power on. But a break might bring the clarity you need to make a career-defining decision for both you and the business.
You don’t have to spend weeks away on an expensive trip. Investing in work-free time could mean purchasing blue light glasses to help you peel away from the laptop and get to bed earlier. It could see you investing in your physical and mental health by switching off in the gym after work.
Whatever suits your interests, time and income, there are ways to keep your mental health in check whilst nurturing your new business.
Think of the bigger picture
When you’re going it alone in the world of business, it can be all too easy to enter negative thinking patterns or convince yourself that things aren’t going to work out.
Feeling this way is understandable, but it’s important to learn how to manage these patterns, and encourage yourself to be present.
Bring your thinking back to why you started this enterprise in the first place, instead of sweating the small stuff. Whether it was because you wanted to turn your passion into a business, help others, learn something new or take on a new challenge, it’s time to start celebrating the small wins.
Check in with yourself regularly and look back on what you’ve achieved. Even if it’s an act as small as cycling to work instead of jumping in the car, this may have enabled you to think more clearly when designing your logo for example.
Life as a solopreneur can be daunting. By reminding yourself of why you’re doing it – as well as talking to others, networking and taking time away from your business – you can reduce stress and prioritise your wellbeing whilst maintaining the upward trajectory of your enterprise.
Free up time with Sage
Sage’s powerful accounting software makes running a business easier and gives you more time to focus on what you do best. You can:
- Customise, send and track invoices
- Store and manage digital records
- Forecast your cash flow