Why running a small business isn’t always something to get down about.

The following post I put together for ‘Small Biz Mental Health’. A great new volunteer-based initiative by people that understand the unique pressures of running a small business, and the toll it can take on our mental health. Please follow them on Facebook.

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Running a small business is tough. This is hardly news, as anybody who runs one knows this all too well.

Sure, it’s always been tough, but this year in particular has thrown some ‘interesting’ new elements into the mix (putting it mildly) that have really tested our resilience.

Here in Australia, we seem to have just got through the devastating bushfires, before we experienced massive flooding, and now the global Coronavirus pandemic has gripped the world and seemingly ground a whole range of industries to a halt… and it’s still only March??

As a humble small business operator, it’s perfectly understandable that you’re feeling enormous stress right now and that it’s starting to take its toll on your mental health.

This is by no means anything to be ashamed of.

I’m there as a small business operator and I’m feeling it too. That initial dream I had of becoming a millionaire entrepreneur seems to be disappearing further and further over the horizon by the day.

It’s very easy to get down about it.

So, while I was sitting there this week feeling pretty unmotivated, I started thinking about why I got into this caper in the first place, and what gave me the initial spark to kick things off.

It brought me back to an experience in my corporate life from a few years back.

 

Here’s my story…

I was brought on board this large business as somewhat of a marketing expert. Despite being a multi-billion-dollar international company, their marketing was a bit of a disaster. No overall marketing plan, a flimsy brand strategy, inconsistent communications, a clunky old website and despite their size, very low overall market presence.

All of this screamed massive opportunity for me. After all, creating marketing functions from scratch was my forte.

Eager to get stuck into it, I soon created an overall draft marketing plan incorporating goals, objectives, strategies, etc. Sensing a serious employee engagement issue within the business, I even drafted a brand strategy which incorporated a whole employee engagement program. This one I was particularly proud of.

Basically, I worked my butt off, created a lot of great stuff in a short space of time and I was loving it.

However, it wasn’t long before the ego of the self-described ‘I know nothing about marketing’ manager that hired me in the first place started to struggle with what I was doing. Before I knew it, he was blatantly taking credit for my work and painting himself as ‘the’ marketing expert.

Never one to sit back and just take it, I attempted to initiate some diplomatic discussions on the issue, which were quickly shut down.

There was a lot of politics in this business, a lot of old school, boys club thinking, and I soon learnt that as proud as I was with what I was creating, I was becoming increasingly frustrated and both my physical and mental health were suffering. It soon became evident that a large, slow, politically driven organisation probably isn’t for me.

After all, I’m strategic, creative, practical, and I like to get things done with minimal red tape. I’m honest and straightforward, I like to work with people that I want to work with, not those that I’m stuck with. Open minded people and progressive thinkers – not dinosaurs.

Let’s just say that we soon parted ways, and I left with a fire in my belly to achieve what I really wanted to and create a great small business. Soon after, Optune was born.

I often think about those times when things aren’t going so well to remind myself that things have been worse, they could be a lot worse, and better times are not far away – because I am in control of them.

I think of the freedom that I now have, the flexibility that I now have, and since I’m in the drivers seat, I need to manage my mental health as a priority to ensure that I’m in the best position to take advantage of all opportunities when they arise.

I’m not suggesting that this method works for everyone, but I hope that sharing my experience has struck a chord with at least one small business operator out there that’s struggling a little to rediscover that fire in their belly.

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