Those who chose the path of entrepreneurship know that it’s a full time job, with little time to slow down. Entrepreneurs are often on the go. To prevent burnout and keep the passion for the business alive, time off is very essential. It’s trickier than it sounds, but it’s the most straightforward hack to stress management for Nigerian entrepreneurs.
High levels of activity over a sustained period of time will often lead to stress. You feel overwhelmed, pushed to the brink, and anxious because of these activities. This article sheds light on some of the causes of stress in an entrepreneurs life, and also how to manage stress.
Causes of Stress For Entrepreneurs
There are many root causes to the stress experienced by an entrepreneur. Most of these stress factors are actually self-induced. So once you are aware of the source, you can begin to take the necessary steps to manage stress.
Let’s see some of the self-induced causes of stress in an entrepreneur’s life.
As a Nigerian entrepreneur, you know the importance of setting goals. What you may not pay attention to is that for those goals to be achieved, they must be S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
This means that before making a decision to work towards achieving a specific goal, you must be sure it’s realistic. Here’s a hint: When your goals require more energy, knowledge, skills, and time than you can afford, it’s unrealistic.
Unrealistic goals equals over-ambitiousness. This makes you work tirelessly, and then you get frustrated and discouraged.
Now this doesn’t mean your goals should be small. In fact they should be big enough to scare you. The most important thing is that they should be realistic based on your available resources.
Many start-ups and small businesses underestimate their capital requirement. When this happens, they soon come to the realization that they’re unable to sustain the business operations, and will have to go borrowing to meet up.
This leads to serious stress when workers’ salaries become overdue, bills accumulate, and production is halted.
The solution to this is that entrepreneurs should ensure they set aside more start-up capital than what they think they will require.
The major cause of stress for most entrepreneurs is competition. As an entrepreneur, you worry a lot about what your competitors are planning, what they are doing, where they go, e.t.c. If you need to stay up-to-date about your competition, you don’t have to stress yourself about it.
What you need to do is to understand the competition, and focus more on your actions. Compete with yourself and be satisfied with good success. Always have it in mind that you don’t necessarily have to be the best in your domain before being a very big success.
Everyone goes into business with the hope to succeed, not to fail. We all have great expectations to succeed and get stressed when it doesn’t happen as soon as we imagined. Oftentimes the stress caused from unmet expectations is mostly due to the disappointment of not meeting the expectations of others rather than yours.
When you try to meet the expectations of family, friends, and community, and it seems like there’s no progress, you get disappointed. So the big source of stress for most entrepreneurs is that we work hard on a daily basis trying to impress the people in our lives.
Here’s how to manage stress from expectations: tune down the expectations of others, if there are any. Be accountable to yourself alone, because everyone has issues they face. You can’t satisfy people so work only hard to succeed, and not to satisfy anyone.
Growth and expansion
Many entrepreneurs desire growth, but not all are prepared for it. You tend to get stressed when you pursue growth and expansion faster than you can cope, and this can lead to a serious fallout.
In business, growth and expansion comes with added responsibilities. There’s an increased need for capital, man-power, production output, work hours, thinking and planning, and management challenges. When you have to put up with all of these unprepared, it leads to stress.
Consider your decision to expand your business seriously. Ensure you’re well prepared as regards resources and you won’t be causing unnecessary stress to yourself.
Read also: How to grow your business in Nigeria
Change and challenges
One of the most changing platforms I know of is the business terrain. We witness the entry of new products, expertise, practices, prices and businesses to the market everyday. The business system evolves as people come up with better ways of doing things. This could lead to serious stress for an entrepreneur that is not innovative and does not surround himself with innovative people.
In life, change is inevitable and can be challenging to cope with. So if there is anything you can do about change, it is to prepare for it, welcome it, and move along with it. In fact, to be a good entrepreneur, you have to be an architect of change.
You may be wondering what solomaniac means. In simple terms, it is another key source of stress for most entrepreneurs. Just because you conceived the idea and set up the business doesn’t mean you have to run it on your own. You can’t, even if you had all the required knowledge and experience.
Doing it all alone makes many entrepreneurs get stressed. Some even go as far as hiring workers and paying them without trusting their expertise. So you tend to do the thinking, organizing, strategizing, building and directing all alone. The end product of this is work overload and eventually burnout.
The obvious solution to this is to always learn to delegate. Assign tasks to each of your workers according to their capabilities and empower them to take initiatives.
8 Simple Ways to Stress Management for Nigerian Entrepreneurs
If none of the above scenario applies to you, here are some stress management tips recommended by experts for entrepreneurs:
Stress management tip #1: Take systematic breaks
When you sense stress coming on, get up and distract yourself from work by doing something else like taking a walk, or going outside for fresh air. Although the break is short, it can actually give you a different perspective on a stressful situation, and also give you short-term relief from the physical effects due to stress.
Stress management tip #2: Deal with stress head on
Don’t procrastinate when it comes to stressful situations. Instead, think about what might be the source of the stress and try to handle it. Whether it’s making a difficult business decision or a phone call from an angry client, deal with it immediately. It’s not always smooth, but it’s an effective way to manage stress as an entrepreneur.
Stress management tip #3: Pay attention to your body’s stress signals
Examples of typical stress signals are sweating, and an increased heart rate. It’s essential to recognize these signals earlier on and get them under control before it gets out of hand. Knowing your body helps you manage stress and most importantly, prevent it.
Stress management tip #4: Keep perfectionism at bay
Don’t get obsessed with your products and services. Know when you need to get a task done and focus on doing your best in a competitive market. While trying to prevent or manage stress as an entrepreneur, always remember that there is room for improvement. Perfection will do more harm than good.
Stress management tip #5: Try to achieve work/life balance
The business environment can be demanding, but it’s important to spare time for other activities outside the work space like hobbies, sports and family events. This will help you recharge your batteries, manage stress, and stay mentally healthy.
Stress management tip #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Another way to manage stress as an entrepreneur is to get 30 minutes of exercise at least thrice a week. Also, adopt good eating habits like including vegetables and fruits in your diet. This will help you handle stress better and give you more energy.
Stress management tip #7: Find people you trust and confide in them
Talking to people on business-related issues can assist you in getting solutions to better deal with challenges. Networking with other people in similar industries also helps entrepreneurs see how others are handling similar issues.
Stress management tip #8: Commit to vacation time
Here’s another great tip to stress management for Nigerian entrepreneurs. Spare yourself some time off to relax, especially during challenging periods. Turn off your phone when on a holiday. Postponing a vacation will have short-term benefits for your business but in the long run, your health could suffer.
Always remember that health is wealth. To keep working and keep succeeding, you need to stay healthy. If you pursue success and lose touch with your health, it might be disastrous.
Final Thoughts on Stress Management for Nigerian Entrepreneurs
Nigeria is stressful. Entrepreneurship is stressful. It’s in your best interest to have these stress management tips at your fingertips. Growth is inevitable, and so is change. The more strategic you get about stress management, the happier you’ll be as a Nigerian entrepreneur.
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- Jummai Bello is a Content Strategist, Copywriter, Business Coach and Author. She has worked with various brands and businesses ranging from entrepreneurship, beauty, lifestyle and many more to create high-quality, valuable content to connect with prospects, educate and drive sales. You can check out more of her work on LinkedIn
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