A recent Google search on the things that keep small business owners up at night revealed hundreds of posts, and the top concerns are hardly surprising:
* Cash flow
* Reliable help/staff issues
* Declining sales
* Lack of time for family
* Compliance/litigation issues
* Economic slowdown.
To this list, I would add uncertainty. That’s what seems to be happening here in central Illinois. Among the small business owners I’ve spoken with, uncertainty about the economic future is the top concern… and it doesn’t appear to be waning. So what’s a good business owner or manager to do?
"Dealing with things as they are—not as you wish them to be—is critical,” notes Leigh Russell, an organizational development specialist. “Being logical rather than emotional also helps. Ask yourself great coaching questions like: What can I reasonably control? What are the steps I can put in place to mitigate potential challenges? What is the worst thing that could happen, and can I deal with that?"
Russell also suggests creating a personal “board” of trusted advisors—or even seeking professional support—to help navigate the challenges of small business. And it’s vital to identify your own personal triggers for stress and find healthy ways of dealing with it. That means: getting plenty of rest, eating healthily and exercising, avoiding alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, spending time with family and friends, taking breaks, laughing, changing your environment, and doing things completely unrelated to the business.
Each year iBi highlights a number of small businesses in our region. While many have remained in business and thrived over the years, not all have been so fortunate. Last month we celebrated our 28th anniversary of publishing this magazine. As the years seem to pass more quickly, it’s hard to imagine. So what have I learned?
- Owning and running a business is hard work—you cannot be an “absentee” owner.
- You must reinvent yourself as times and situations change.
- Be patient—and don’t take things personally.
Take note of our local businesses and support them with your dollars! It may not eradicate uncertainty, but it will certainly help. iBi