I believe that being a female entrepreneur is one of the most empowering decisions that we can make, with success allowing us the ability to create a business and life that truly reflects our hopes, dreams and desires. We get to be in charge of our own destiny and our financial future.
However, thanks to the global pandemic that began in early 2020, we may have found ourselves at our proverbial wit’s end. Super stressed, physically and mentally exhausted! Everyone looking to us for answers to the many situations that we found ourselves in at the time, that we simply didn’t have!
And that’s the real rub behind what everyone see’s on the outside looking in. Oh, the joys of being a small business owner! I’m pretty sure that none of us ever expected (or planned) for the world to practically shut down, for the economic and emotional impact and the terrible loss of so many souls throughout 2020.
As I reflect on last year, I can clearly see (and celebrate) many of my strengths (and my weaknesses). As I begin moving forward into strategic action for 2021, my focus and intent is to double down on my strengths and outsource as many of my “weaknesses” (or weak areas) that I possibly can.
Why? I am consciously aiming at reducing the things that cause me to feel overwhelmed, that zap my energy and cause me stress. If you feel like 2020 was a marathon that’s still going, I hear you!
We certainly aren’t at the finish line yet and so I believe that it’s vitally important that we take time (now) to strategise how to consciously conserve our energy and metal focus for the projects, people and things that will bring us closer to our dreams, desires and goals.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with worry, stress and fear.
When this happens, it isn’t just your business that’s affected but also your health and wellbeing. To put it simply, identifying your stress triggers is essential to managing your “state” properly (physical, energetic and emotional) so that you can show up as the leader you want to be, the partner, mother, lover and friend that you desire to be.
In this article, we’ll be talking about some of the stress indicators for women business owners and entrepreneurs.
- Being A Perfectionist
The race to perfection is a double-edged sword that so many female business owners are guilty of.
If you’re striving for the need to be perfect (even more than usual – with so much on the line in these uncertain and unfamiliar times) this habit can catapult stress levels through the roof and leave you feeling frustrated with not taking action sooner and ultimately getting the results you want. Even if you get several tasks completed, you still dwell on the one task you weren’t able to do “properly” or complete (according to your high standards). While women worry about this way more than men do, it’s important that you recognize the pattern that you are playing out and release the need for perfection. It’s better done than perfect and never done at all! While at times, perfectionism can be used to your advantage, realize that this behaviour also stems from being overwhelmed with stress. Simple breathing exercises or a one minute mindful meditation can help you to slow down, let go and regroup so that you can focus and complete the task and move forward. Take a moment to celebrate all of the tasks that you have completed instead of the one’s that are still on your ‘to do” list.
- Do Less To Achieve More
As a business owner, your job is to take care of the entire business, which means your focus is scattered over several areas, directions and many, many tasks at once. It can be draining and completely exhausting. The business never ends and there is always more to do. If you think and work like this, it will leave you with little to no time for yourself (or your family and loved ones) which will drain you even faster. The best way to deal with this huge stress trigger is to firstly, look at your mindset and your beliefs about what a successful business owner looks like, thinks like and what she accomplishes from day to day. This one exercise alone, helped me to uncover some beliefs that were completely disempowering and detrimental to my physical and mental health. As soon as I was aware of them, I could change my habits and behaviours to better protect my energy and my personal time.
Secondly, get all of the tasks, commitments and promises out of your head and onto paper. You will instantly feel your overwhelm and stress levels lower.
Thirdly, prioritize your tasks in order of effectiveness (towards to the outcome you want) and focus all of your energy and time on the highest value task that will move you closer to that outcome. This way, you’re not overworking yourself and you still have adequate time to recharge your energy. If you keep fitting all of your tasks into your schedule, you’ll never have time for yourself or anyone else. You may be a business owner, but you also deserve time for yourself and your loved ones. You can better manage your stress levels by scheduling your wake up time to slightly earlier than normal to fit in a small 10 minute meditate and sign up to an exercise class or go for a walk around the block as this is a brilliant way to set up your day for success.
- Wearing A Facade And Feeling Like A Fraud
Whether you are a sole trader or have hundreds of team members working for you, you can feel like a fraud at any stage of your business journey. Your friends, family and team are always looking to you for the answers, the results and money in the bank. When you are navigating a new challenge or even an exciting opportunity, the internal stress that you feel is massive!
You need to show (externally) that you have it all together, that you know what you are doing (to inspire others – clients and team included) and yet on the inside – you may have no idea how you’ll pull it off or even if you can!
Living that internal battle every single day is brutally tiring – both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, it’s practically a rite of passage for moving to the next level within your business but the exhaustion part doesn’t have to be.
Notice when that façade is getting to heavy to carry. At this point, you need to ask for help and tell the truth. Of course, you can’t blurt it out to your team that you have no idea what you are doing and are terrified that “it” may not work so search for and join small business communities with like minded business owners. Try and commit to working with coaches and mentors that have been there, done that and can navigate you through this normal (yet yucky) part of the journey.
Feeling like a fraud thankfully lessens over time (yet never completely goes away) as every time you push outside of your comfort zone, you’ll feel that familiar feeling rise to the surface. Thank it and honor it as it shows you that you are leveling up again. It’s crucial that you be true to yourself and be kind to yourself on your journey of growing and scaling your business and your life success, your health and wellbeing depend upon it.
- Overworking And Over Giving
In a way, this is connected to being a perfectionist, except it’s not the need for perfection but the need to seen to be “put together” and caring. Women, especially women business owners, have this misconception that you need to have it all together (even when you don’t). This can cause an even greater burden and send stress levels soaring. As a successful women in business, we set our own standards, not the ones that society dictates to us or that we were brought up believing.
You don’t need to overwork or over give to justify yourself, your fees or prove anything to anyone. You can better manage this stress by asking for help, delegating tasks and projects to a trusted employee, friend, family member or contractor and you can redefine what success in business looks like for you at any time (if you are feeling burnt out, resentful or apathetic).
Just because you’re the boss, doesn’t mean you don’t get to ask for help. The point of managing a business, even a small business, is having employees and a team to help you bring your vision to life and create not just a brilliant business but also create a Life of Ultimate Wellbeing that you desire and deserve.
In conclusion, I hope this article was insightful and thought provoking and highlights many of the common stress triggers and indicators that we face as women entrepreneurs. There really is something to be said about the power, confidence, care and community behind female entrepreneurs but in saying that: it doesn’t mean that we don’t get stressed or that we wont feel like we are failing at times. Being REAL in business and acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses are the true super power of a female in business, increasing our level of personal awareness and responsibility as we build our businesses and our lives. The capacity to grow, do the inner work and build our internal resilience allows us to best care for ourselves and then care for our team, clients, family, loved ones and community.
By delving deep into your stress triggers and disempowering patterns you will become a more energetic, healthy, wealthy and successful long term entrepreneur. If you feel I could be of help with your entrepreneurship or stress levels feel free to reach out to me!