Small Business Survival Guide - Rest, Recreation and Reflection

Dec 16, 2019 4:00:00 PM

As humans, we invest a considerable amount of physical, financial and emotional collateral into our business. If any of these three personal investments are not properly maintained, then the other two will be negatively impacted.

Whether we are struggling to sustain our business or succeeding, we will still have our share of challenges and stress, so taking care of ourselves is paramount. 

Wellbeing is extremely topical and rightfully should continue to be a central focus of our business planning. Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked and despite our best efforts to achieve, or at least demonstrate resilience, we are fragile creatures. The demands and pressures put on us by modern business practices and performance expectations can erode our capacity to function at required and sustainable levels.

With 70% – or 372,000 - of registered New Zealand businesses having zero employees, it is of little surprise that one of the most significant issues faced by our small business owners is isolation. Most of the businesses we work with through the provision of mentoring at Business Mentors New Zealand are small businesses. One of the major benefits they get from engaging with a business mentor, apart from access to their skills and knowledge, is having someone to talk to in confidence. While they are not a life coach, their role is to support the business owner.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson was quoted as saying:

“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t have to.” 

Though Branson’s statement may only seem relevant to more substantial businesses, there is much we can learn from a small business perspective. One of the major advantages of having staff is the ability to delegate tasks and duties. While business owners and leaders drive change, they are backed by talented and motivated people who get things done. In small business, when you are responsible for every aspect of your business, finding time to train and treat yourself is often well down on the priority list.

Depending on your business sector, Christmas is a time for holidays, rest and recreation. For service-related businesses, it is often a forced break due to the inevitable shutdown over the summer holiday period. This freeing up of time is excellent - however, for some, it can create additional stress due to reduced or non-existent cashflow.

It is vital you take some time out to spend with friends and loved ones. Also vital is taking the time - ideally before your holiday begins - to reflect and plan, helping to free your mind from any business-related doubts and concerns, motivate you and provide you with direction when you return to work in the New Year.

There are numerous ways to carry out your business planning - it should be something you can embrace - so find a methodology that suits you. A structured planning process could be writing lists, mind mapping on a whiteboard, or talking with someone else and taking notes. Be sure to keep it simple and, regardless of how you plan, capture your ideas so you can reference them again later.

If you are struggling to find a way to initiate a planning process, here is a suggestion: 

  1. Use the Business Discovery assessment tool, available for the Business Mentors New Zealand Mentors and Mentee's.  This tool gives insight into where your strengths, challenges, opportunities and threats are. Remember, you only know what you know; it’s what you don’t know where others may be able to provide fresh perspectives.

  2. Ask your mentor for an hour or two of their time to do a brainstorming session. Discuss what went well over the past year and what you could have done better. Their experience and knowledge could prevent you making avoidable mistakes.

  3. Be brave enough to talk about your feelings. What brings you joy and what keeps you up at night? Your motivation, energy and persistence to overcome challenges are linked to your state of mind. If depression or anxiety is an issue for you, then they should take a priority in your planning.

Once you have identified areas of your business and things about yourself that can be improved, maintained or eliminated, then write a list. For each list item, create a few achievable goals to ensure you have a workable plan. 

While you may feel a sense of isolation as a business owner, you are not alone. Talk to your customers and ask for feedback on how your product or service can improve. Keep evolving your plan and applying new items - new goals should never end.

Most importantly, look after you. Always seek out and have a mentor who will guide you towards being the best possible business person you can be. 

Merry Christmas and a sustainable and profitable New Year.   

Visit the Business Mentors New Zealand website – for a small registration fee of $295 +gst; we will match you with a skilled Business Mentor.