Apr 29, 2012

Small Business Stress - Avoid biting off more than you can chew

  • Do you have trouble saying no?
Do you create stress for yourself because you simply can't say no to unreasonable demands from some customers?

A considerable amount of stress in small business can come from having a tendency to  over-commit yourself. Are there simply too many occasions when you are taking on things that you know you cannot realistically do?  Are you saying yes to unrealistic time-lines and demands from customers?

  • Why might this happen?
Well, maybe it's the fear of losing the customer unless you accommodate their demands. Or it could be greed ...... wanting to make as much money as you can as fast as you can.  Many people in small business do it because they are lured by the chance to make more and more money.

Mind you, there are some people who do it because of an ego thing - they are consistently pushing their own limits and challenging themselves. This can sometimes stem from a need to prove something to themselves - or to someone else.

Whatever the underlying reason, if you are taking more upon yourself than what you can reasonably handle, you're going to become stressed  A persistent pattern of over-committing over time will likely have serious negative repercussions to either your physical or mental health.

Even if you think that you can manage the quantum of work you have taken on within that unrealistic time-frame, chances are that if you have staff working for you then you will likely be also pushing them to their limits as well. You run the risk that your workplace environment will not be a pleasant one and that you won't retain good staff.
  • Learning to say no
Of course, you must do so with tact. And don't just say what you can't do - make sure you emphasise to customers what you can do. Unless you are able to set some reasonable limits and boundaries with your customers, you may end up burning yourself out. Remember, you're in business for the long haul and not just the quick buck. Look after yourself, and look after your staff (if you have employees)

Yes, customer service is imperative, and yes you want ot be flexible - but sometimes you have to ask yourself if the stress created by persistently unreasonable customers might simply not be worth their business. Saying no to their unreasonable time-lines will also help to educate them about how you can best work together in future to accomodate their requirements.

For many more tips on how to deal with stress - including recognising some of the causes and effects of work related stress.

About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of a corporate training and leadership development company, Performance Development, based in Melbourne, Australia.  He is a qualified psychologist, experienced management coach and an engaging presenter, with a passion for helping people achieve their full potential


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