THE ENTREPRENEUR’S BEST FRIEND

By Debbie Larry-Izamoje

Nothing quite prepares you for entrepreneurship, not being the best graduating student in school, not growing up surrounded by business owners and sometimes not even the experience of working for others. To own a business is to sign up for an unpredictable rollercoaster ride.

It is a unique experience that can be likened to marriage. You can read all the best selling books, communicate with your mentors and even follow the exact footsteps of successful entrepreneurs, but the truth is there are still some days that running a business becomes draining and if precautionary steps are not taken, the stress of running your business especially in these times of ‘change’ can create adverse effects on one’s health and drawbacks in growing relationships.

It is important to note that before you are the owner of a business, you are your own person. Asides the struggles of deadlines, dealing with employees, and ensuring that the financial needof your business is met, you have personal needs that must be attended to.
As a businessperson you must learn to prioritise and also deal with stress as it comes. This article therefore focuses on coping responses for stress. The main key is not to stress too much about stress.

Identify the Problem
Like most of my articles, I always recommend that people take time out to find the source of their problems, as you cannot properly treat what has not been diagnosed.
The first step coping strategy is to actually focus on your stress. The very first thing to do is carry out a stress audit using the five whys technique which I discuss frequently in my articles.

The five whys technique is an iterative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. For an entire day, focus on yourself, every time you feel irritated, angry or stressed write down just how you feel, and the leading causes of that feeling. Ask “why” after a symptom is found, get the answer and then ask why again… till you come up with the real root cause of a problem.
The result of the five whys technique enables you to fix the problem instead of fixing symptoms. Once you have identified your stress triggers you are 50% more able to live as a stress free business owner.

Set a Routine
Write down your priorities for a set time. What needs to be done and how these tasks must be executed. List each task according to deadlines and ensure you prioritise with fast approaching deadlines.
It is advisable as a business owner to live by daily routines. Routines provide structure, increase motivation and improve productivity without added stress. At the start of each week, create routines around task that are priority. For every time an assignment comes up in the week, add it to your list of priorities and later to your weekly routine list.
In order to further ease stress, it is important to set systems in place to assist your effectiveness. For example you can decide that emails will only be read at 12 noon everyday and that you will observe a one hour lunch break at 2pm everyday.

Delegate
I have come to realise that a lot of employers and business owners struggle with delegation; most especially entrepreneurs who toiled for many years building their business models alone. And so we have many business owners who are surrounded by skilled and efficient employees but hardly ever test these people’s abilities.
Maybe the reason you are so stressed out is because you are so used to being a one-man army and you believe you should bear the burden of solving every problem the business is faced with.
I have news for you. This is not sustainable and with time there will be a drop in productivity either on your part of that of the business. Delegation is highly encouraged in any work environment as it is also a great learning opportunity for employees.

If you still do not have employees, you may want to consider asking your loved ones for help or simply learning to say “No”, so as to avoid taking on more tasks than you can actually handle. Entrepreneurs must learn to save their energy and thought process for the big decision making processes that have a direct impact on the company. You must also learn to react to situations slowly and must important give room for employees to make mistakes.
Delegation should be your way of accepting that you can only do so much as a human being and that your well being is more important than your financial success.

Take a Break
How many times as an entrepreneur have you laughed at your mistakes? If you have to think deeply about the answer then you are probably doing something wrong.
Think positive and laugh. Learn to celebrate victories and celebrate lessons from failures. Do not set unnecessary standards for yourself or business, set reasonable achievable goals. Perfectionism leads to stress.
Some successful entrepreneurs have expressed that exercise helps as well as meditation, if you find that this works for you, add it to your daily routine to eliminate stress.
Get enough nights sleep to be refreshed for the next day. Learn to unplug. Do not be that businesswoman answering work emails while on vacation with the family. Take a break, spend time with those you love or just by yourself.

About Debbie Larry-Izamoje
Debbie Larry-Izamoje holds a BSc in Information management from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom and MSc in management from University College London (UCL). She has also secured certificates in user innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Innovation and strategy from Harvard University.
She is on a mission to raise a generation of young established or soon to be established professionals who are more vocal about business difficulties while providing solutions through public speaking, training, workshops and coaching.

She is the founder of the IBL platform a subsidiary of Image boosters limited, which is an online business community for young established/soon to be established professionals to ask questions, share concerns and experiences and receive tailored counseling.

Contact: http://www.imageboostersng.com/debbieizamoje/
Instagram: @dee_larry @imageboosters_
Email: contactus@imageboosters.com.ng, TeL: 08053198558 (text only)