Dealing with Small Biz Stress: How Solopreneurs Can Take Control and Get Better Life Balance

Solopreneurs come from all industries, diverse business backgrounds, and  with varied expertise and skills. I find it Yoga personfascinating to discover what other solo biz owners like most about being solopreneurs – and what they find most challenging.  Although we’re “solo,” we’re all in it together really. We can learn from each other and all become better small business owners as a result.

My Q&A with Solopreneur Dr. Ann Lee.

Ann owns Health for Life Clinic in Lancaster, PA. As a solopreneur in the healthcare field, she faces some unique business challenges, but there’s also a lot that she has in common with the rest of us. Within this post, not only does she share what she believes are the perks and pitfalls of solo biz ownership, she also provides some helpful advice on how we can all better deal with the stresses of solopreneurship.

As a solopreneur, what do you find most rewarding about owning your own small business?

Ann: The freedom and creativity you can have with owning your own small business . . . if you have an idea – you can implement it quickly and see right away if it works or not. You get instant feedback, and can work on improvements quickly. Clients can give you feedback, and they can see them incorporated the next day. You can really make a difference in people’s lives, and clients notice and appreciate the work that you do.

As a solopreneur, what do you find most challenging about owning your own small business?

Ann: Because your business is your lifeline, you will dedicate and sacrifice a lot of time and effort into it. It is totally rewarding in the end, but it is up to you to set your own boundaries and still have a ‘good work life balance.’ So the most challenging is setting those boundaries.

In your practice, what health complaints do you hear most from patients who are solopreneurs or professionals which can be attributed to the stresses of being in business?

Ann: The most common health complaints are those attributed to stress: high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive complaints, sore/aching muscles and joints, chronic fatigue and dependence on coffee.

What are some lifestyle changes business professionals could consider for alleviating stress and performing better mentally and physically when under pressure?

Ann: The most challenging thing to do, as I mentioned before, is actually scheduling time regularly throughout your schedule for mini-vacations or stress relieving activities. If you don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen. And if you don’t make it a priority, it doesn’t happen either. I find professionals who schedule relaxing activities regularly such as golf, yoga, meditation, perform better and are able to create better business relationships. There are many options available for relaxing activities that resonate with you and fit into your schedule.

A simple nutrition tip is to never skip breakfast, to start off your day with a full tank of gas.

To maximize restful sleep, it helps to unload your thoughts on a piece of paper before going to bed, or to have a to-do list always on hand so that it doesn’t stay on your mind to ruminate over while trying to go to sleep.

Ball’s in your court!

Some wonderful takeaways, right?! I think Ann hit on one of the biggest challenges we all face as solopreneurs. We put so much time, energy, and focus into our businesses, but we often neglect the bodies and minds our businesses need to succeed. I know I could definitely do a better job at getting enough sleep, stepping away from the stress, and living in the moment when with family and friends. How about you?

My thanks to Ann for sharing her experience as a solopreneur and for giving us sound, sensible advice. Now it’s up to us to use it!

Dr. Ann Lee of Health for Life ClinicAbout Dr. Ann Lee
Ann Lee, is a naturopathic doctor & acupuncturist, serving Lancaster, PA in complementary & alternative medicine, with a specialty in infertility (natural fertility). At Health For Life Clinic, Inc., she provides patients with comprehensive, personalized healthcare through acupuncture, naturopathic and holistic medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, herbs, and lifestyle improvement. For more information about her and her practice, visit her website.

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By Dawn Mentzer

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When to Say “When” – Drawing Boundaries on Volunteerism

Solopreneurs and new business owners, especially those just starting out, can benefit big from volunteering in their Draw the linecommunities. Not only does involvement help organizations in need, but it can also lead you to new professional connections, allow you to develop new skills, demonstrate your leadership capabilities, and enable you to beef up your portfolio.

Powerful stuff! But as you dig in and commit your time and energy to volunteerism, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Volunteering should be a win-win. The organization and the community should benefit from your involvement; the experience should give you a positive return on the hours, talent and effort you’re investing to the cause. It should enhance, not detract from your personal and professional life.

Here are a few signs and signals that you may have taken on more than is good for you and/or your business:

  • You’re unable to find time to network to effectively build your business.
    Although volunteering gives you the opportunity to make connections, it might not afford you the ability to directly promote your business or services to the people you meet. If your commitment takes too much time away from your business development activities, you could be missing out on attracting new clients and generating revenue.
  • You’re not “present” with your family – even when you’re in the same room with them.
    It’s likely that physically you can’t always be around your loved ones as much as you’d like to when working on your business.  So when you are, they deserve the attention of your whole brain. Being in business for yourself takes plenty of mental energy in its own right, adding significant volunteer responsibilities on top of that will further push you to your limits. If you’re constantly distracted and thinking about other things when in the company of your family and friends, consider re-evaluating and adjusting your volunteer roles.
  • You’re irritated rather than energized.
    Volunteering should make you feel good. Sure, you’re giving precious hours and talents, but if the volunteer opportunity is the right fit, you’ll nearly always feel rejuvenated by your commitment. If you find that you’re consistently dreading meetings, getting annoyed by emails and phone calls from others in the organization, feeling resentful about donating your time and skills, or all of the above, you might need to cut the cord or drastically set some boundaries on what you will – or won’t do – as a volunteer.

Again, volunteerism is a marvelous way to breathe life into your business and personal life. Just be aware that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Before you commit, do an honest assessment of the amount of time you can – and are willing – to spend. If you’re already committed and have found yourself on the verge of burn out, make a change – and don’t feel guilty about it.

Has volunteerism played a role in your professional life? How have you kept your volunteer commitments in check so they’ve continued to work for – rather than against – your business?