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Stress is part and parcel of owning a business. But that doesn’t mean you’re automatically headed for endless sleepless nights or debilitating burnout. There are various ways to cope with and manage the stress of owning a business.

“The Greatest Weapon Against Stress Is Our Ability To Choose One Thought Over Another.”

William James

If you’re stressed out by various aspects of being an entrepreneur or business owner, you’re not alone. According to a Gallup poll, 62% of female and 51% of male business owners experience daily stress. 60% of female owners and 47% of male owners said they experience daily worry, and 31% of female and 20% of male owners reported that their mental health was worsening.

The stress of owning a business isn’t confined to the office. It affects your physical and mental health, and it can spill over into other aspects of your life, potentially affecting your relationships with family and friends and contributing to negative behaviors. Ultimately, stress could lead to burnout – and the worst part is, it’s not like you can hit the pause button on your business so that you can take a much-needed break.

Being told not to worry about the situation, to just breathe, or to relax, doesn’t cut it. Use the practical solutions below to manage and cope with the stress of being a business owner.

How Stress Affects Body And Mind

Your body has a built-in automatic stress response known as the fight-or-flight mode. When triggered, hormones activate various processes that basically gear you up to face the stressor or to run away from it. However, constant exposure to stressors means your body is in a permanent fight-or-flight mode, which is detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Some of the physical symptoms of stress include headaches, muscle pain or tension, fatigue, chest pain, stomach or digestive problems, and changes in your sex drive. A few of the mental/emotional symptoms include anxiety, depression or sadness, restlessness, anger or irritability, feeling overwhelmed, and a lack of focus or motivation.

Stress can also lead to behavioral issues such as over/under eating, misuse of alcohol or drugs, tobacco use, angry outbursts, less exercise, and social withdrawal. It doesn’t take a genius to see how any or all of these symptoms can negatively affect your life as a business owner. Stress management is vital for your own sake and for the sake of your business.

With that said, let’s explore different ways in which you can manage your stress.


Recognize Your Stressors

The factors that trigger stress (stressors) are different for everyone. You might take presentations and business events in your stride, while the owner of another business might be plunged into stress, anxiety, and worry.

A few common stressors include:

  • Overscheduling
  • Long to-do lists
  • Financial concerns
  • Worries about business presentations and events
  • Managing employees
  • Keeping up with compliance
  • Keeping customers happy

Learn to recognize your stressors. Spend a few moments assessing how you process the various experiences and situations you face daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly as a business owner. Being able to identify your stressors can help you prepare yourself to deal with them constructively going forward.

Acknowledge What’s Going Well

Recognizing what’s going well for you as a business owner is just as important as recognizing your stressors. Knowing which strategies work for you and what areas you’re coping in can inform how you manage stress in other areas.

Spend a few moments assessing the areas in which you cope well and think about what makes it possible for you to cope in those ways. In addition to identifying your strengths and helpful strategies, doing this will put you in a more positive frame of mind.

Once you begin doing this, you’ll find it easier to relax when you feel like you’re making progress in at least some aspects of your business.

Build A Firm Schedule

Having a regular routine means you know what to expect when you’re at work. Yes, there will be unexpected factors that come into play, but you’ll have the advantage of already having a sense of control over your day, which means you’ll be better prepared to face them if and when they arise.

Build a firm schedule for yourself. Tackle the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning, so you’ve got them out of the way. Once they’re done, you’ll feel ready to tackle anything else that comes your way. Take your body clock into account when building your schedule. If you know your energy and concentration levels dip mid-afternoon, schedule the easiest tasks for that time.

Prioritize Personal Time

Self-care is essential for your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Looking after yourself plays an important part in keeping stress and anxiety in check.

Prioritize your personal time and include it in your schedule. It’s too easy for business owners to get swept away in what they’re doing, and that can eat into time spent on self-care, doing the things you love, and cultivating your relationships with family and friends. Don’t think of your personal time only in terms of time after hours—you should include lunch and other breaks during the day too.

Remember to unplug during your time off. Don’t let email and other notifications eat into your personal time.

Learn To Say “No”

Entrepreneurs and small business owners often fall into the trap of micromanaging or trying to do everything themselves. Doing this can send your stress levels through the roof, so set boundaries.

Learn to say “No.” It’s not always easy to do this, so focus on your goals and ask whether the opportunity or task in front of you will help you achieve them, whether you have the time to do it, how important it is, and whether you actually want to do it. If the answers to those questions are “no,” say no.

Delegate Or Outsource Work

As much as you shouldn’t micromanage, there’s no getting around the fact that there are tasks that need doing. If those tasks relate to some of your weaknesses, they can add to your stress. However, you also can’t ignore them.

Delegate or outsource tasks and work that others can do. You’ll free up time to focus on the important tasks that do require your attention, which can help you better manage your stress.

Use The Right Tools To Lower Business Owner Stress

The technology and software you use are supposed to make your work easier. If your tech doesn’t do what you hoped it would do, if it’s not user-friendly, or if it’s out of date or doesn’t work properly, it will add to your stress.

Review your technology and software applications. If they don’t serve you or your business, replace them with more effective options.

Empower Your Employees

A recent report revealed that 42% of small business owners felt employee management was their biggest stressor. It’s not easy to find the right team and to keep it productive and happy, which may tempt you into trying to micromanage every aspect of your business. That said, your employees are your most valuable assets.

Empower and nurture your employees. Doing this will equip them to do their tasks efficiently, properly, and confidently. The result will be greater employee retention, increased productivity, a greater sense of collective responsibility, and less stress.

“If You Can’t Handle Stress, You Won’t Manage Success.”


Stress doesn’t need to get the better of you and it certainly shouldn’t affect your desire and drive to succeed in business. Identify your stressors, tackle them, and improve your health as well as that of your business. While some stress is healthy, knowing the difference and how to eliminate bad stress is key for dealing with business owner stress.

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