Business can be lonely but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone

4 March 2021

This morning, I woke to an email with the alarmist subject line – The mental health pandemic is here! It’s a topic on the radar of most workplaces, including mine, and with good reason.

We’re in a period of change globally, rapidly accelerated by COVID-19. Our freedom to travel has been restricted, a large proportion of the population is retiring, we have a housing boom, how we use technology is changing, how we transact is changing, and the international supply of goods is unknown.

The world is changing. And while we work towards understanding how this change will impact us as individuals, we need time to figure out where we fit in, and what we want our perspective to be.

It’s the same in business. COVID-19 has heightened existing tensions for small business owners. Now, on top of everyday troubles such as not knowing if a tender has been accepted, fighting to win work, an ever-shrinking customer base, tight cashflow, and making the right decision at the right time, COVID-19 has shifted the goalposts and they’re dealing with changes in consumer behaviour, economic markets and technology. Some days, it can feel overwhelming.

While there is no one-size fits all solution, there are strategies small business owners can employ if they feel overwhelmed. Here are some useful tips.

Pause - Breathe in, breathe out, close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out. Now, where do you find peace? Whether it’s the beach, fishing, running, walking, sitting in a garden or having dinner with friends, do that activity at least once a week and think of it when you are in a tough spot.

Talk - Sometimes it’s easier to see possibilities and successes in others and hard to see your own achievements. Make time to talk about what has gone well in the last year and what you’ve achieved.

Read – I had a good laugh with this book - How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything--Yes, Anything! by Albert Ellis. Not only did it teach me about me, but it taught me about the behaviours of others. Perspective.

Laugh - Who has that magic that makes you forget your troubles and just laugh?

Be with people – Whether it’s family, friends or a business function, it’s surprising how simply changing our environment can help us see a different perspective.

Plan your timeout - When is your next holiday, family get together or catch up with friends? Having something to look forward to can help.

Perspective - Is the stress you are feeling caused by the environment you have created, or a person in your world? Start observing yourself. Do you need to own it (and plan how to resolve), or is it someone else’s problem (in which case leave it at the door and push back)?

Exercise - Find 20 minutes every other day to find time for you. Often, the easiest times are the start of your day, just before dinner, or two hours before bed.

Get support online – The Mental Health Foundation and business.govt.nz have some excellent resources for business owners.

Talk to your business adviser - Developing a business plan can help put things into perspective. Talk to your adviser about whether you’re eligible for NZTE Business Capability Funding to help with costs. If you’re not eligible, let your adviser know you’re finding things a bit tough and ask for a coffee catch-up. Often, just having a coffee and talking can lighten the load and you can use the catch-up to discuss what support you need and how you might be able to manage those costs.

Though it can be hard to recognise when you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are many people and organisations that are willing to help. Believe it or not, the first step is knowing you are in a tough spot. The second step is reaching out.

If you need help or are in a cloud of confusion, please reach out - to anyone. If you’ve reached out for help and no-one heard you, try again, or try a different person.

For business support or to discuss your eligibility for NZTE Business Capability Funding, get in touch with the Findex Accounting and Business Advisory team. We are always up for a coffee.

If you feel a bit overwhelmed, anxious or just want to talk, free services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  1. Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
  2. Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).
  3. Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.
  4. Samaritans – 0800 726 666.

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March 2021