First Person: Stress Management for Small Business Owners

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Today I was finding myself reluctant to get started at work because mentally I was tired of the constant change and constant learning cycle I've been going through for the past five years as I attend classes to learn how to master Internet marketing followed by doing my posts, restaurant reviews and articles for Yahoo! Contributor Network. I have been a small business consultant for 9 years. I want to stay up with sales and marketing so as to advise and guide my clients.

These are the same challenges affecting all small business owners, whether they are on the Internet or not; whether they have brick and mortar businesses or operate from home offices. The world is spinning so fast now that we are a global community, it's unlike any time in history.

While change is challenging to everyone, your employees look to you for answers and decisions. They are overwhelmed too. You have an advantage. As the small business owner or executive, you have some degree of control over the direction your company takes. Your employees don't have as much say.

When it gets overwhelming, you need some tools to handle it. The following are my favorites.

Three Tools to Enable You to Cope with Constant Change - Contemplation, meditation or prayer 15-30 minutes a day - Know your main focus and values - Take breaks periodically

Contemplation, Meditation or Prayer 15-30 Minutes a Day

For years the media has touted the value of meditation for relieving stress. My personal favorite is contemplation. When I was a child, I used prayer. While people can argue over which approach has the greater merit, I recommend picking one and using it.

There is always something that demands my attention, yet I have learned that this is "my time" to get in tune and rise above my personal pressures so as to find a few minutes of peace. I find I think more clearly and find more inspiration thanks to those 20 minutes each morning. Find your own best time.

Know Your Main Focus and Values

Do you know where you are taking your company? Do you have a big picture or are you so bound up in minutia that you can't lead because you are reacting? You need a clear idea of what your business is all about. What is your contribution as a company to your customers, employees, vendors, community and the world?

You don't need all of the answers. No one has them. Nevertheless, having an overall direction written out will enable you to check each new opportunity to see if it fits with your business' purpose. If so, include it. If not, avoid the distraction. Get clear on where you want to take your company.

Know your values. As a relationship selling person, I believe in connecting with customers and bringing value into their lives by solving specific problems for them. I believe too that business needs to be fun, fulfilling and mutually rewarding.

Take Breaks Periodically

In addition to contemplation, meditation, or prayer, you need some breaks and recreation to keep you fresh. Travel is one of my favorite breaks because it exposes me to new experiences, new people and new viewpoints. All of these improve my ability to handle change.

Probably my favorite daily break is to play Spider. It takes only a few minutes per game. The Windows version allows me to undo moves all the way back to the start. I have an 88% success rate because of this. The benefit is that it confirms that if I just change something, a situation that looked unwinnable can usually be won through persistence and flexibility, a willingness to change and to try something new.

Dorothy and I also go to movies occasionally, read books for entertainment as well as for business, and go for walks. Find your own way to take a break. You may find that while you are relaxing, your subconscious manages to find new solutions for your business challenges. When you refresh yourself, you will often return to flashes of insight.

Constant change stresses everyone. While small business managers lack the resources and variety of experts that major corporations have, you are smaller and more flexible. The key is to use the three tools I listed above to rise above your moments of overwhelm, steer you company by your business' purpose and values, and take breaks so as to come back fresh.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

More from this contributor :

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