This past week I had numerous coaching calls with clients and while some things were going better than they had hoped for there were some things that were causing them to feel overwhelmed and not enjoying what they really loved to do. I listened and asked lots of questions and realized that as much as we plan to have businesses and companies that run like a well-oiled machine, the truth is that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. So how do you create a stress-free business and more importantly, is there such an animal? Is it possible to take care of your business so that stress remains as minimal as possible?
We all know that as business owners or corporate executives, managing all the responsibilities can be overwhelming. It is important to focus on ways to eliminate stress, so you and your business can remain healthy. Being healthy should be a goal for everyone and that does mean your business and YOU.
Let’s start with leading by example. Stress is often dictated by leadership culture. I always said I would never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do and that included everything from emptying the trash to setting up meetings to providing customer service and then some. As a leader you have to go by the mindset of never let them see you sweat. Of course your team should know about the direction and results of the business but you don’t have to share your personal challenges with them like the argument you had with your spouse or that your children were less than cooperative that morning. Remember your personal life is called personal for a reason. If you need to have time to de-stress, go for it. Spend some time taking a walk and include your team if you want. Take a break when you need it and let your team know that you do encourage down time…just don’t forget the up time.
Next, introduce the concept of being social. We all work so many hours and often hear comments about not having time to do anything we love to do or that we forgot what we loved to do. Create social time and sometimes that can also be part of creating more production. When you are in sales and have a sales team, you can incorporate the fun and production by having a pizza night. We used to do this once a month. I would bring in pizza and invite everyone in to brainstorm, bond and build. We would all sit around a conference table and talk about what was working for them, what were the challenges and celebrate any of their triumphs. Inevitably someone would talk about what their phone conversations were and then pick up a phone and “demonstrate” how they did it. Many of the agents would go to separate offices and start making calls and by the end of the night we would have 10, 20 and sometimes 30 appointments set for the following week. Production was high and the next time we met, so was the excitement. We took the stress right out of calling, scheduling appointments and selling.
Of course there also needs to be open communication available. A leader is someone who provides this environment and that too helps reduces stress. When you are kept in the loop, you feel like you are a part of the team. There’s nothing worse than being blindsided by a decision that was made that involves you and you were not included. This does work both ways as well. You too will be kept inside the circle of trust as well.
One of the biggest stressors is where you actually hang your hat. If you are in an office space, think about what your team sees when they drive up. Close your eyes and imagine walking into your building. Can someone be successful there or is it a place that no one wants to go? Is it a place that is welcoming to everyone or does it make you feel like that square peg trying to fit into that round hole? When I had my agency in Charlotte, my office was in a beautiful building and when you walked in, you could envision yourself being successful in a safe environment. When I left and moved to Dallas, the person that took my position and my team decided to save a few dollars and move the office. It was really a few dollars per month but it represented a lot more zeros in the long-run. He moved to a building in a sketchy part of town that was in the basement, which we started calling the Bat Cave. It was surrounded by businesses that did not cater to women and did not have that safe feeling. Most of the women on the team decided not to go to the office which provides stress for everyone and also eliminates that social factor I spoke about. Multiple opportunities for stress to breed. If you work in a home office, it’s no different. If walking into your office gives you that feeling of wanting to walk right back out, make some changes. Clean off your desk, file your papers, add a funky light or even a purple stapler. Have a picture of someone or something that makes you smile. It won’t cost a fortune to do but again, it will add some additional zero’s to your bottom line.
Eliminating stress doesn’t have to have a million dollar solution. It starts with the leader and is passed down to the rest of the team. But, let’s not forget the leader of the pack. You have to take care of you. While you do wear so many hats which can lead to personal stress, it is vital to take care of you. You can’t hire someone to do that. You need to do it yourself. Here are a few ideas that keep you at the top of your ToDo List:
- Stay healthy. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep. Remember that well-oiled machine I mentioned? The engine needs to have regular maintenance and that will be evident in how you show up.
- You have to have a plan. A business plan is something that will give you the road to travel and get you to your desired outcome. You can see what only you can do and what you can delegate to others. Prioritize your list and watch how productive you really become.
- Make sure you schedule your personal time. It’s not do as I say, not as I do. If you are encouraging your team to take time off, so should you. Be strict with your calendar and when it shows personal time, that’s what it means. To start, put yourself on your calendar as an appointment. You wouldn’t miss an appointment now would you? Remember busy people like to work with busy people so don’t think you will lose business by taking care of you.
- You need to stay connected with your community and your social media but you also need to know when to unplug. Building relationships and nurturing them is important for the success of every business. Having an online presence is important as well since that is the first place people go to when they want to find out about you. But remember, life and business will go on without you if you choose to unplug as well. Think of it as recharging your battery.
- Finally, money always plays into stress. Whether it’s building a business or growing your business or adding to your team. It all takes revenue. Keep track of where you are and where you need to be and if it starts getting out of whack, contact your CPA for a heart-to-heart discussion. Oh you don’t have one…put that on the list as well.
The changes you make for your business and yourself can seem tiny but with each one the changes can result in monumental growth.
Remember too much stress literally causes the brain to freeze and shut down temporarily. Most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not the way life is. Adjust your attitude and all that extra stress is gone.