Trusted Partners

Running a business is unlike anything else

A guest article from Phil Smith, The Alternative Board

As business owners we know that there’s nothing more rewarding than running your own business – and there can be nothing more stressful either – but, when the buck stops with you, it’s often the people we love, or the things we love to do that get pushed to the back of the queue.  

According to the World Health Organisation, stress is your body’s response to anything that requires attention or action. Well, as a business owner, isn’t that just about everything?!  Reminders ping, the phone rings, you’re one down in the warehouse and the orders are backing up, then there’s the business plan for 2023 that you haven’t even started yet… and you’ve promised you’ll be home on time tonight for dinner with the family… the phone rings again… “I’m just calling to see if you got that email I sent earlier – you haven’t replied yet and I need…”

There’s a lot of focus about employee mental health and wellbeing – and quite rightly so – but what about the business owners themselves?

Cited by HRNews in November 2022, a recent survey conducted by GoProposal surveyed 750 business owners about the mental health preparedness of their businesses.  It found that “when it came to the workload, burnout and mental health of business owners themselves, 54% have worked long and late hours to keep their business on track and running well, 51% have lost sleep due to the stress, 48% had taken on multiple roles despite not being qualified to do so, and 47% have felt a blurring of home and work life.  This can inevitably lead to strong feelings of low confidence or motivation, which a third of bosses said they felt, as well as 28% who said they felt unsupported or lonely.” 

Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way you respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to your overall well-being.

Talking helps – but who can provide an external perspective when you are so close to the business?  When you’re too close, it can be difficult to see issues or opportunities that might be glaringly obvious to someone else. Cultivating a group of unbiased observers is an excellent way to expand your perspective. (This can be especially helpful for family-owned businesses, which often suffer from relying on the advice of too many people with very similar points of view).  Maybe there are issues that simply can’t be discussed at home or with those close to you. 

Make a plan – getting things out of your head and on to paper will definitely help you to make sense of your situation and, more importantly, the way forward.  Whether it’s a plan for growth or to ‘stop the rot’, the only constant in business is change, so better to tackle it head on, right? 

Create accountability – how are you going to stay on track with so many day to day things trying to derail you? Many business leaders excel at meeting the day-to-day deadlines of the business. But big-picture goals designed to stretch the business, like implementing a new digital strategy or networking with potential business partners, often get put on the back burner.  And let’s not talk about that promise you made to yourself to get to the gym!

Don’t forget YOU – is your business working for you, or are you working for your business?  Creating your Personal Vision is the key here.  Why are you doing what you are doing, and what is your ultimate aim?  Is it World Domination?  Or is it a more balanced life?  Not to miss the children growing up? To retire early?  Travel more?  Expand your experience and knowledge?  A financial legacy for your family? 

During our year end review, one of my members said that I’d helped them to realise that business growth didn’t have to mean more stress!  In the week that Terry Hall, the lead singer of the band Fun Boy Three passed away, I’m reminded of one of their hits, “It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It!”

Running a business is unlike anything else.  The weight of responsibility is heavy, and can be stressful… but you don’t have to do it alone…

If you want to reduce your stress and make a successful start to 2023, download our free guide;

How businesses can have a successful start to 2023 (

The Alternative Board helps business owners to improve their businesses in ways that change their lives, and it’s been a privilege to support my TAB Members as they tackle the challenges of their businesses and develop their own effective personal leadership during 2022.  I’m looking forward to continuing the adventure during 2023. 

If you’d like to find out more about The Alternative Board, please call me on 0777 169 2416 or email

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