Stress Is All Around Us
There is no doubt that many Owner/Operators work under considerable stress.
Sometimes this stress is constructive because we are excited and challenged by growing the business and/or making it more profitable.
But all too often, it comes about because events just overtake us and we find ourselves fighting off one alligator just to get attacked by another.
This stress is not healthy or helpful. It leads to all sorts of physical upsets and is also often damaging to your relationships.
There are straight forward ways of reducing the 4 main contributors to this stress; and they do not take very long to implement.
The typical stress points in smaller businesses are caused by:
1. Events: constantly changing scenarios and the associated pressure to handle them.
2. Time: finding time to get done all that must be done.
3. Money: earning a decent Profit and Salary and paying bills as they fall due.
4. People: hiring, firing, managing and motivating.
Read on and convert “distress” to “de-stress”.
1. Taking Control of Events
We have all felt, from time to time, that events are controlling us.
They come rolling down the bowling alley like balls and we are the skittles at the end of the alley. No sooner does one problem go past than another one rears its ugly head and we start a vicious cycle all over.
Perhaps we can approach this issue with a sporting team analogy.
Every time a football team runs onto the field, it is facing a completely unknown set of events and it must learn to quickly adapt and respond to these events in a pro-active way. Eventually it becomes the master of the football field and wins its game.
It is very clear that no team has a chance of winning unless they share a common goal. In football, that is straight forward; it is to score a goal. A goal is the goal.
The first thing our business team needs is a clear-cut goal that we are all pulling towards. This will minimise the stress caused by chaos and uncertainty over what the business is trying to do and what each individual staff member’s role is.
Until your business has a clearly identified Goal(s) then the team doesn't have a common destination in mind and will start to deteriorate into make-work activity, internal squabbling and general business ill health.
Clearly one of the very first steps of regaining control over events is to have a clear destination or goal in mind and to have clearly communicated that to all your fellow team members.
This goal then becomes your "rudder" to steer you in the desired direction.
Profit Savvy's S.M.A.R.T Goals article will assist you with this.
Learn To Love Your Constraint
An Israeli Physics Professor, Dr Eli Goldratt introduced a rather profound thought to the Theory of Business Management in 1984 in his book titled “The Goal”.
He argued that essentially there was usually only one, or a very few, Bottlenecks that Constrain the ability of your business to produce whatever it is that it does.
Focusing attention on other parts of your business, before focusing intently on the Bottleneck/Constraint, is simply a waste of time. Nothing is going to improve until the Bottleneck/Constraint is improved and operating at its maximum efficiency (Profit Savvy covers the Theory of Constraints here).
There are going to be many things that you could be working on and you may try to juggle all these balls at once.
Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (TOC) argues that this is not productive.
Rather than juggling all balls, and in fact not moving ahead but simply being caught up in meaningless repetitive motion, we could take just one of those balls and focus on making it bigger, better or moving it as rapidly as possible to our destination goal.
It is manifestly a lot easier to juggle one ball than several and there are fewer dropped balls.
Want to find the constraint/s in your business - go to the Full Article now.
Local Optima means that we do our very best to get some part of the business system operating as fast or as well as possible (optimal) without giving regard to other parts of the business.
On the face of it, this is a good idea but it brings a host of problems that will stress you.
We need to overcome that and focus all elements of the business on the primary goal and adjust local operations to best satisfy that primary goal.
We often hear of a "Silo Mentality" in business.
Each part of the business is focused entirely on what it is doing and only coincidentally thinking about the impact of its operations on other parts of the business.
Having all these silos in competition with each other, and blaming each other for poor outcomes, is definitely stress-inducing.
Profit Savvy has more on Local Optima here.
Go to the Full Article now and read further:
"Increasing Productivity 16 Times": There is a theory known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in the late 1800's. He noticed that 80% of the wealth was being held by roughly 20% of the population. He went on to find this same 80/20 Rule appearing all over the place and in many different contexts.
"Death by Multitasking": We have all heard of multi-tasking and some people are proud of their ability to do this.
In fact, multi-tasking adds considerably to your stress level and is something that you should try to do without.
The full article illustrates the impact of multitasking, by considering the example of 4 projects (ABCD) each taking 4 months to complete.
2. Become A Time Lord
Most of us are probably familiar with Doctor Who, the Time Lord. In his many manifestations, he regularly demonstrates his ability to make time work to his advantage.
Here are a few facts to consider about Time:
- Any person has only a certain amount of time available to them both in the day and in their life.
- Logically, any group of people working in a business have only the sum of their available time.
- We already know the average person wastes 80% of their time (see 80/20 Rule).
This is further described in Parkinson’s Law which says that “work will expand to fill the time available” unless we can have some discipline about our use of time.
- We already know that we can do what we presently do in around 1/16th of the time.
"But how" I hear you ask?
The answer is the Eisenhower Time Matrix (ETM):
The ETM is simple really; it is just 2 steps.
Go to the Full Article now and complete the steps.
Is There An App For That?
I am sure that it comes as no surprise that there are phone apps to help you manage your ETM.
This means that, no matter where you are, you can capture your ideas and tasks and immediately score them on the timeliness and importance of them.
Profit Savvy staff presently use an app called ToDoIst which will work on any mobile or desk top computer.
We give a case study of how ToDoIst works in the Time Management Tool article.
3. Money Problems!
Worrying about money is a very common and major Stress for Owner/Operators.
There are 2 big issues:
- Will I make a decent Profit and comfortable Salary from my business or should I be seriously thinking of wrapping this business up and getting a job.
- Will I be able to pay my bills as and when they fall due.
Because these are such common problems, Profit Savvy has developed an entire program to address them - Profit Autopilot.
There is a lot of material in Profit Autopilot that you can refer to but basically it does 2 things:
Puts Profit First
Traditionally Profit is calculated with the equation:
Income - Expenses = Profit
This means that you find out what Profit you have made several months after the Financial Year has ended when your Accountant has completed your Financial Statements. You are then forced to take whatever Profit has historically happened.
Profit Autopilot turns this around and makes the equation look like:
Income - Profit - Salary = affordable Expenses
This reversal means that given any level of Income that we presently have, we want to set ourselves a Profit goal and a Salary equivalent to our market value. Then we have a level of Expenses that we can live with to achieveboth this Profit and this Salary based on what we are worth.
Knowing that we are positioned to make a Profit and a market level Salary goes a huge way towards reducing the Stress.
Paying those bloody bills!
Without doubt, we all Stress over the issue of being able to pay our bills when they fall due. Some of these bills are particularly vicious. If we do not pay our staff, they will leave and then where will we be? If we do not pay the Tax Office, we are likely to bring a world of hurt down upon our head.
The problem, until we are organised about this, is that we tend to pay the bills that are screaming loudest at us in the hope that we will have more money to pay the rest of the bills as they fall due.
In Profit Autopilot we have a concept called "Profit Piggy Banks". This divides your incoming cash into separate "Piggy Banks" designed to pay your various types of debt.
Imagine how much Stress you will get rid of if you can be confident of paying your bills as and when necessary.
4. People Problems
People, bless them, will cause no end of strife and Stress in your business.
It comes from our Staff, Suppliers and Customers.
Clients and Suppliers
There is no doubt that any business is going to need Customers or it will not succeed. It is also going to have some critical Suppliers.
We are, therefore, going to have Stress related to these two groups. The trick is to manage those Customers/Suppliers in such a way that as least possible Stress is generated.
We have grouped our Profit Savvy resources together under “People and Profit” in the "Contents” menu on the website.
Managing Staff Problems
Almost any business that wants to grow is going to need to employ Staff. A specialist professional sells their time and there is only so much of it. You might know a brilliant Brain Surgeon who makes a lot of money, but they have a big "Constraint" (remember we talked about this in TOC earlier) since they only have so much time in the day.
On the other hand, if you are in business employing other people you get to harness their time as well, so your productivity is increased over and above your own by each additional Staff member.
The topic on how we manage Staff is a very large one that we can only touch on here. There are many more articles and other materials throughout Profit Savvy - see Resources in the Full Article.
There are at least 6 basic principles in managing Staff to lower your Stress:
1. Get the right people on the bus.
2. Ensure everyone is pointing at the same destination (goal).
3. Keep Staff focused on the tasks that are going to have the 80/20 impact on your business.
4. Resist the temptation to micro manage your staff.
5. People need frank, but pleasant, feedback to keep them focused.
6. Not all people perform equally well. Group your people into Stars (A), Competent (B), Incompetent (C).
Click below now for more great information on De-Stressing:
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Watch this short 11 minute video on how to reduce the four main sources of small business owner/operator stress.
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