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The mental health impact on small business owners and how to manage it

The last year has taken a real toll, not just on the economy, but on people’s mental health. Nowhere is this more true than for small business owners who, with employees, clients, and often families to look after, saw, in many cases, their livelihood go under.

Those that have weathered the storm have done so at considerable personal cost. A survey of almost 500 business owners by Mental Health UK and Fintech company iwoca, highlighted “not going on holiday with family” and “having to use personal savings to finance the business” as the biggest sacrifices. They also found that female owned businesses were less likely to have reopened and be operating at normal levels than male-owned businesses post-coronavirus lockdown. As a female owned business this cuts close to our own hearts.

At PA Business Support we place a lot of emphasis on mental health. As two business-owners who both have families with young children, we’ve suffered our fair share of challenges over the years. What we’ve learnt is that you need to know when to let go. Running/owning a business is like raising a child – you can’t control everything, and if you try, it’ll overwhelm you. Beating yourself up for something that is beyond your influence is a waste of energy. Likewise, worrying about the past, what you should have said to this client, or what you should have done in that situation, is pointless. We learnt early on to celebrate our successes instead of lamenting our failures. We’ve also learnt to stop worrying about a million possible outcomes, and instead, set goals, and plan. This has been very helpful during Covid-19, where, with the future on perpetual hold, we found that planning and scheduling can be a form of proactive coping. As a result, PA Business Support never stopped working!

One of the ways we’ve managed to do this successfully is by maintaining a healthy work-life balance. We cannot stress enough: taking breaks and regular time off, whether to do the endless personal admin tasks that build up, spend time with family/friends, or simply get some breathing space, pays dividends. We’ve found (and this is backed up by scientific evidence) that it leads to not just all-round better mental wellbeing, but more efficient performance in the workplace. In short, look after yourself and the business will prosper. This is one of the key reasons our virtual assistants become virtual assistants: because it offers a flexibility and control over their lifestyle which leads to better mental wellbeing and general happiness all round.

Today, we encourage all our candidates and employees (and each other) to talk about their mental wellbeing, and to reach out to their support networks, whether family or friends, if necessary. But of course we understand that not everyone is able, or willing, to express how they’re feeling. Most business owners (and we’ve been there ourselves) are fuelled by a ‘can-do’ attitude that often prevents them talking about their stressful lifestyle with others. That’s why we feel it is equally important to let people know that there is support available.

Mind are a well-established charity offering helplines and listening services for people who feel they’re in crisis. The NHS offers a service for finding local support on their website and   Mental Health UK provides links to their founding charities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all dedicated to offering compassionate and expert support, for free, to those who want it. Very soon, iwoca and Mental Health UK will be launching a tailored support product for small business owners. This is what they say about it:

One of the first of its kind, this support will explore how being a small business owner impacts mental wellbeing, and will include providing all small business owners with practical tools, access to support networks and trained mental health specialists.

This is extremely encouraging news and we highly recommend all small business owners, like ourselves, stay abreast of the latest developments on the Mental Health UK website.

There is no doubt that for small business owners, anxiety, worry and stress can lead to extreme self-doubt, depression and worse, but with support, and by recognising you’re not on your own, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Need a virtual assistant to lighten the load? Get in touch with us now.

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