With all the demands that small business owners face, it might seem like prioritizing your mental health is an impossible feat. With Financial Literacy Month kicking off Nov. 1, it’s important to consider all the factors that may impact a business’ financial wellness. Keeping mental health and wellness as a priority will support your business’ long-term success and create positive holistic impact.
Thirty-four per cent of 1,500 Canadian entrepreneurs said mental health challenges interfered with their ability to work at least once a week, according to a 2022 survey by Business Development Bank of Canada. Sixty per cent said they felt tired at least once a week.
Poor mental health can have a greater impact beyond just your business as well. A business’ financials and the economy at large are closely tied to mental health. Mental illness costs the Canadian economy $50 billion a year, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Here are some strategies you can use within your business to help balance out your financial wealth and mental health:
Create boundaries and delegate tasks. While this sounds simple, in the day-to-day excitement of running a business, setting limits can feel impossible. Calls and emails during evenings and weekends can be difficult to ignore, especially if you think it will affect your relationships with clients or suppliers. It can also be hard to be present with friends and family when you’re worried about a delayed shipment or other challenges.
Building healthy work and personal life boundaries need planning, time and effort. Set aside a day in your calendar to think about how to structure work and block time away. You can change how and when you receive notifications on your devices. You can hire a virtual or in-person assistant to free up time and headspace. Consider looking into ways you can automate tasks and processes within your business.
While changing habits and workflow take time to get used to, you’ll reap the benefits of better sleep, increased engagement, reduced stress and more fulfilled relationships.
Stabilize your cash flow to give you some control around those boundaries. This will allow you to scale your business at your own pace while supporting a positive work-life balance. Some benefits of stabilized cash flow include improving your ability to reinvest, being seen as less risky to lenders, decreasing your financial pressure and stress, being prepared for unexpected costs and being able to explore expansion opportunities.
Check out ATB’s Cash Flow 101 for more information on how to understand and stabilize your business’ cash flow.
Re-evaluate direction and purpose. Where do you spend your energy? What do you value? Do you remember why you started your business? While cash flow periods will vary, having a business strategy to reference will help you make decisions. It can drop distractions and steer you away from work you find stressful or tedious. While many owners have goals in mind, many don’t have benchmarks in place to ensure they stay accountable, and focused, on what’s important.
Reconnect and network with fellow entrepreneurs who understand the unique challenges of owning your own business. Networking opportunities not only charge your social battery but also motivate you. Uncovering the creativity of other business owners can help solve problems and streamline processes. Additionally, it can offer you a great community of individuals who understand your experience and the joys and struggles faced by a small business owner.
Self-care is not a cliche and needs to be a priority for every entrepreneur. It doesn’t have to be a spa day, yoga class or vacation; it means stepping away and logging off to proactively avoid burnout. This can mean turning off your phone, reading a book, disconnecting in nature, watching TV or meal prepping. It often means prioritizing your tasks and saying no to things.
The pursuits that help you manage stress aren’t frivolous—they’re what keep you going, especially on hard days. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a bunch of changes at once. Start small, find what you like and build your routine from there.
Access resources to help you prioritize your mental health and overall wellness.
Tap into free resources from the Alberta division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (like BounceBack to manage stress, anxiety and depression) and Wellness Together Canada (which has assessments, articles and helplines).