Paul Maplesden

What do you do to stay sane when running a small business?

Asked October 22, 2012 by in Personal Development

Hi there, I am putting together some advice for people running a small business, making suggestions on what they can do to 'stay sane'. I'd be interested in your viewpoints. I've thought of a few things myself, namely:

* Create clear boundaries (Family / Business, Pleasure/Work, Yr own office etc)
* Create a weekly and daily routine (Days of week to do stuff)
* Don’t obsess about stats, analytics, hit counts etc.
* Don’t get lost in all of the advice available, trust your instincts
* Get away from the computer and the business, exercise and look after yourself
* Write things down so you don't forget them
* Cultivate other interests outside the business, nourish your mind
* Remember why you are doing this in the first place (freedom, wealth etc.)
* Do one thing every day to move your business forward in a small way

Does anyone have any other good ones to add please?

Please note that I have now created the first of several guides based on this information: http://www.businessbulletpoints.com/stay-sane-reduce-stress-small-business-boundaries/

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  46 Answers

10

Ellen J. Harris

Ellen J. Harris   October 22, 2012, Edited October 22, 2012

Stick to the tasks that lead to revenue generation.
Define how quickly you can generate revenue.
Be clear on what you do - Are you a hobby or a business?
Develop a task list that lead to revenue.
Ask yourself each day - What did I do to get this business closer to revenue?
Implement a sales system first where your products/services can be purchased.
Build a marketing system that leads into your sales system.
Outline your financial system that funds your marketing and sales systems. (cost of a customer, cost of each piece of marketing collateral)
Concentrate on conversion. Convert your activities to sales.

This is how I stay sane.

Hope this helps, Paul.

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Paul Maplesden
Paul Maplesden Great food for thought Ellen, thank you for taking the time to respond.
October 23, 2012
Keith Gormezano
Keith Gormezano Stay focused. It you aren't going to make money, what's the point?
4 months ago

5

Tracy Jackson MBA

Tracy Jackson MBA   October 22, 2012

The viewpoints you and Ellen have posted are great and many of which I presently use. The others I would add are: 1. Reevaluate your vision and mission. Its imprortant to remind yourself of the core purpose and reason for starting your business. Sometimes as busy business professionals we can lose focus. 2. Re-access your business or marketing plan. Often times business owners can get off track and miss core steps in implementation, development and the overall achievement of the goals and objectives set forth during start-up. While its essential to adopt new business processes it is as equally essential to access what has worked well in the past, continue those processes and evaluate how you can improve. 3. Network Network Network ... connect with like minded business professionals, share ideas and form partnerships that will assist in growth and continued development.

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Ellen J. Harris
Ellen J. Harris Well said, Tracy. Review and Network, network, network!!
October 23, 2012
Paul Maplesden
Paul Maplesden Excellent information here, thanks very much Tracy.
October 23, 2012

4

Ulrika Nilsson

Ulrika Nilsson   October 23, 2012

Laugh a LOT (stay positive), ask my Golden for input and since I don´t get any useable business advice from him I end up asking myself - or my team - "what's the worst thing that can happen?" (being a bit "damaged" from being a former lawyer :-D) just to realize that nothing, so far, can change what really matters the most to me - the love of my family and closest friends. Putting things in perspective always gives greater insights. I also do agree with You that it is in fact great to cultivate other interests outside the business, although of course I am aware that this might be difficult to do when You simply just love what You're doing and everything somehow seems to turn into some kind of joyful "shop talk". Go with Your gut instincts - do what feels good and FUN.

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Paul Maplesden
Paul Maplesden Excellent stuff, especially the Golden bit which made me chuckle!
October 23, 2012

3

Janet Janowiak

Janet Janowiak   October 24, 2012

1. Be sure to have processes & procedures in place before signing the first client or you will never have enough time to set things up correctly.
2. Outsource the tasks that you are not an expert in to a Virtual Assistant. They can save you time by doing Internet research, bookkeeping set up, social media profiles and more.
3. Install Evernote on every device you own. This way, instead of writing thoughts and ideas on scraps of paper that you will lose, you can enter them into Evernote and they will be at your fingertips, no matter what device you are working with.

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2

Jerry Crain

Jerry Crain   October 29, 2012

Who said I was sane, LOL.

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1

Rand Bateman

Rand Bateman   December 26, 2012

Sanity and successful small business are usually mutually exclusive. Once you give in to the insanity, it gets much easier. Most of all, you have to love what you do - otherwise, you have the worst job in the world.

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1

Stephen Young

Stephen Young   8 months ago

I agree with many of the comments in creating a work life balance. There are times when you need down time just to refresh. I also am a strong believer insome form of physical exercise to get the frustrations out. For me it is martial arts. Some like running, swimming or golf.

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1

Jason Ryer

Jason Ryer   October 23, 2012

All great suggestions. But whatever it is you do, KEEP IT SIMPLE! A lot of people try to change things too quickly - like jumping head first into a new exercise routine that goes from zero to five days a week. Bad idea. Take baby steps. Set clear goals and then work backwards to incrementally work toward them.

For exercise, I'll stop and do some push-ups or pull ups in the middle of the day. This works much better for me than a cup of coffee to wake me up and keep me energized and motivated. And it's easier than going to the gym. If you need some ideas for easy exercise, I would recommend checking out something like FitDeck - a simple deck of cards with exercises on them.

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1

Paul Litwack

Paul Litwack   3 months ago

Hi Paul - great initiative.

Here's one relevant strategy that I didn't see in the excellent responses already here:

While 'sanity' is a Conscious, unproductive label of something else, it has zero significance on its own, once we are guided by our inner truth (UNconscious). That's right.

On that basis, ask your inner truth/UNconscious about the single and only thing that matters ... the answer to this yes/no question:

"Does this serve me best now?"

(where 'this' refers to your list above, the other answers here and all other things)

If your Conscious and UNconscious conflict (isn't that the very source of your 'sanity' question ;-) then go with your gut (UNconscious). Do that 100% of the time.

For 36+ years I empower my clients to achieve that daily. You can too, give me a shout or apply the resources in my book, Ready Aim Soar!

Paul

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1

Pentti Malinen

Pentti Malinen   October 24, 2012

My viewpoints are:
1. Do what inspires you
2. Reward yourself for your successes
3. Calculate your price so that there is money for a vacation
4. If you do not enjoy your work stop using it immediately

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Benjamin Warsinske
Benjamin Warsinske I think #2, rewarding yourself for successes is often overlooked. It is so important to reward yourself at the time of your successes. And to document those successes to look back on. So many people look past their success and accomplishment trying to reach something much greater, when in reality, they have achieved a great deal and just did not take the time to notice. Great comment!
March 3, 2013

1

Anne Bachrach

Anne Bachrach   October 24, 2012

Create business/personal metrics for tracking actual activity against your goals. All successful people track activity. I think this is critical to business success. Leverage your calendar to have all your high payoff activities on it and then follow your calendar. These 2 items work in harmony together to help you stay focused and achieve y our goals, in my opinion.

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1

Robert Benn

Robert Benn   October 24, 2012

Wow there s a lot of wisdom out there but here are a few tidbits:
1) Remember it is a marathon not a sprint. You came up with an idea or a concept and it will take time to get the right recipe for success. As a famous artist friend of mine reminded me "It only took me 20 years to become an overnight success"
2) Plan your work and work your plan. This may seem rudimentary but much of the advice is to sell, sell, sell. However there are times when you have to plan, build and prepare before you can sell. Again, this is about balance in the plan. Identify the high value tasks that bring high long term value and execute them.
3) Find a group of like minded people you can physically meetup with. It helps to bounce ideas off others once in a while and while it may not generate cash, it does help clear the mind for the next presentation.
4) Use mental floss. Veg out from time to time in what ever your way is. A refreshed mind is a more productive mind and you will make more sales, be more creative in the development of collateral material and may just find the answer to the problem you have been working for the past two months.

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1

Keith Gormezano

Keith Gormezano   4 months ago

Have a personal day off where you completely disconnect and are not available.

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0

Gerald Abrahamson

Gerald Abrahamson   November 6, 2012

Have clear and reasonably attainable objectives. Keep working towards them. And play a lot. You always need the mental break in restart refreshed.

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0

Julien de Waal

Julien de Waal   6 months ago

I find that meditation & visualization really help me stay "sane" and focused when running my business (amongst other things of course).

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0

Kimberly Sutton

Kimberly Sutton   5 months ago

Remember to sleep and eat. You may love your business and doing the work, but you have to remember to take care of yourself.

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0

Helen Charles-Morgan MIOR

Helen Charles-Morgan MIOR   5 months ago

Plan your day the night before
Dont take things personally
Have fun
Go for a swim

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0

Simon Sundaraj-Keun

Simon Sundaraj-Keun   February 4, 2013

1. Keep it simple.
2. Never give up.
3. Willing to listen to criticism.
4. Always have a plan.
5. Enjoy what you are doing.
6. Expand your network.
7.Trust in yourself and others around you.

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0

Lora Zibman

Lora Zibman   December 28, 2012

Outsource administrative tasks so you can stay focused on what is important.

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0

Joseph Carpenter

Joseph Carpenter   6 months ago

HAVE FUN

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0

Amara Rose

Amara Rose   October 23, 2012

Hi Paul ~

These are all excellent, and I encourage you to turn it into an article for the mosaicHUB Resources section. I posted a piece several weeks ago that speaks to core coaching guidance for entrepreneurs and everyone else: self-care. You touch on it in point 5. This expands upon it: http://www.mosaichub.com/resource_center/resource/the-renewable-resource-called-y-o-u

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Paul Maplesden
Paul Maplesden Amara, that was definitely one of my intentions. I am creating a blog article and on the back of that there will be a PDF guide, which I will be uploading to MosaicHub :) (I've already put a couple of guides up there, which I will be expanding on; I currently have about a dozen to share)
October 23, 2012
Amara Rose
Amara Rose Sounds super, Paul! The more resources the better served we all are.
October 25, 2012

0

Susan J. Stein

Susan J. Stein   December 4, 2012

Don't be afraid to consult with experts for ideas!

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0

Tim Pacileo

Tim Pacileo   October 23, 2012

Focus on Sales then focus more on sales and then refocus on sales - once you have the sales then the rest comes easy.

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0

Rich Grehalva

Rich Grehalva   October 23, 2012

Paul,
Yours plus the others have given great insight. I have a few to offer:
- Find a mentor... a wise elder who is giving you life information not just business stuff.
- Wake up and the first thing is to give gratitude to the creator and be thankful for the life you have been given.
- Have a weekly date night with your spouse... business talk is off limits.
- Do not miss your child's event... you'll regret it later if you do.
- Listen to MP3 or CD's in your car from the masters in business and life
Best,
Rich

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0

Michael Hartzell

Michael Hartzell   October 23, 2012

Paul, You are minimizing the opportunity by focusing on "staying sane". You can ask "how does one survive" or "how to meet the minimum expectations".

It is much like the staff who answered my question: "How did the customer feel?" with "They didn't complain." We hope to achieve more than "keep them from complaining." :)

If on the other hand you are talking about coping with the stresses of owning a small business: Vision. Waking up in the morning with a vision keeps one not only able to cope but actually thrive when things are bumpy.

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0

Adam Szuster

Adam Szuster   October 23, 2012

I think you need to have something of interest OUTSIDE the business. This gives you an escape when you need it and can help clear your mind getting you ready for that next big idea.

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0

John Flanagan

John Flanagan   October 23, 2012

Lot's of great tips here already. Allow me to toss 3 more pieces of wood on the fire:

1) Keep things as small as possible. For example, if you're building an online service, determine what the minimum set of requirements you can get away with deploying, and then just do those really well. You will surely drive yourself crazy if you try to play keep up with bigger competitors.

2) Cash is king. Cash is king. Cash is king. Always be looking to cut costs and increase revenue. More cash == less stress == more sanity.

3) Find the biggest, nicest, heaviest rock glass you have in the house. Something you could use to knock out an intruder, and preferably of Irish crystal. Fill with ice, and squeeze in some fresh lime juice. Fill half way with a freshly opened bottle of tonic water. Add at least one full measure of good gin. Top off with tonic water to taste, and throw in a nice chunky piece of fresh lime. Stir. Repeat step 3 as often as required to restore sanity.

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Paul Maplesden
Paul Maplesden Step three is awesome!
October 23, 2012
Paul Maplesden
Paul Maplesden Step three is awesome!
October 23, 2012
Keith Gormezano
Keith Gormezano I like step three as well followed by step two.
4 months ago

0

Freda Thomas MBA

Freda Thomas MBA   October 23, 2012

Go for a walk, and do something other than focusing on your business. You'll be surprised how easily ideas come to you, without inhibition.

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0

Lawrence Guinness

Lawrence Guinness   October 23, 2012

Make sure it's something you really love doing so it doesn't seem like work.

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0

Joseph Pesta

Joseph Pesta   7 months ago

Keeping organized, and staying on top of the things that need to get done helps. Making use of the tools available to you, that can help you run your business, is also important to do. Taking time for yourself is important as well. It helps you and your business.

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0

Robyn Henderson

Robyn Henderson   March 2, 2013

Have a daily morning routine that you stick to for the bulk of the week. Whether it is the time you get up, the morning exercise you do, what you read, the time you start "work" and most importantly the time you stop "working" - to give yourself time to recharge.

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0

David Salerno

David Salerno   October 23, 2012

The Serenity prayer, over and over, and over again!
lol... Aslo, for me, i try to reflect on WHY i started my business in the first place! It wasn't to get rich quick, it was because i was following my passion. Keeping this in mind always helps me through those rough spots!

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0

Sarah Moody

Sarah Moody   6 months ago

Remind yourself of the reason you decided to start the business. If you are no longer happy or feel as the passion has died, perhaps it's time to do something else for a while and then revisit at a later date. Starting out is very stressful... ITS okay to take breaks. You aren't doing anything wrong! Remember you are great at what you do. Give it time and give yourself time.

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0

Lisa Mackay

Lisa Mackay   October 23, 2012

Two things i would add are:
1. Take time to reflect on what you have achieved - I was recently "forced" into this when putting in an entry for a business award and it was great to see just how much i had achieved in 3 years - 35% year on year growth, over 300 clients helped etc certainly makes it feel worthwhile
2. Keep doing your hobbies - It's all too easy to "stay in the office", but the reality is that there are very very few jobs which can't wait until tomorrow

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Keith Gormezano
Keith Gormezano That is one advantage of awards - they force you to sell and market yourself.
4 months ago

0

Nadja Lancaster

Nadja Lancaster   October 23, 2012

Wow, all those great answers, I still have a lot to learn and implement.
I just started out my very small business 12 months ago and work as a Virtual Office Manager for small business owners. I work from home, have two little kids and a household to manage. Many times I felt completely overwhelmed and wasn't sure if I could keep my sanity. What I had to learn was... Ask for help, don't try to do it all alone. There is always somewhere somebody who can help you with what you need. You just need to be willing to ask for it and to accept the help you receive.

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0

Sherri Edwards

Sherri Edwards   October 24, 2012

Have a clear sense of what "good business" is and "bad business" is, no matter how big the paycheck is. Walk away from projects that are inconsistent with your brand or simply too tedious or trying to want to do. You'll make more money if you save your time for the things you are good at and you enjoy. Much more likely to get referrals.

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0

Paul Maplesden

Paul Maplesden   October 24, 2012

Thanks everyone for the superb responses, there are some really great and valuable suggestions here. I'll be fashioning some of this advice into a blog article oevr the next few days and also creating a resource guide that I'll post here. I'll include links when everything is up and running :)

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0

Anders Abrahamsson

Anders Abrahamsson   October 24, 2012

Just make sure you always have money coming in. Then adjust your business according to your markets demand, i.e. you clients paying you. Everything else is secondary, without money it's just work.

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0

Tri-County Security

Tri-County Security   7 months ago, Edited 7 months ago

Set short term goals and a few long term goals. Short term goals can be easily accomplished and you should make every attempt to accomplish one or two every day or week. Long term goals should be prioritized by setting many short term goals for its eventual accomplishment. f.e. short term goals: organizing filing systems etc. Long term goals: Obtaining new office space, expanding into a new city or state etc.. Never take your eyes off of your goals.

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0

Dino Eliadis

Dino Eliadis   October 24, 2012

It's all about balance - personal and professional. You must make time for both and schedule it!!!

Also, too many small business owners over time lose touch with why they started their business in the first place. It almost never is just to make money. Money is the means to some other end. When you lose sight of the END you lose your passion and often yourself in the process.

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0

Mahendra Jain

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0

Sashi Gunturu

Sashi Gunturu   October 26, 2012

I fully agree with all the points. Startup companies are often advised to focus on one great thing rather than 5 good things. However, we work on several things and we are 5 years into the business. We are just about realizing the one underlying theme (our great thing) that binds all things we do.

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0

Renee Sigel

Renee Sigel   April 16, 2013

You shouldn't even hope to be sane starting a business, let alone staying that way. take a leaf out of Anita Roddick's book on entrepeneurship. She once said of the difference between a lunatic and an entrepeneur is that while one sees something others cannot, an entrepeneur convinces others to see the same invisible thing.

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