Mental Health Tips for Small Business Owners

Running a small business can be rewarding yet stressful. Prioritising mental health is essential for long-term success and personal happiness.

Most businesses run on pretty tight margins which mean there’s very little extra capacity. If someone takes leave, is away ill or resigns, guess who generally has to step in? If there is a lack of resources for certain roles or tasks, chances are the business owner will get involved.

It is commonplace for small-business owners to be working long hours, struggling to achieve life work balance and feeling that it all rests on their shoulders.

And it’s not just internal pressures within the business that can cause pressure, small businesses often bear the brunt of a turbulent economy. Throw in a series of interest rate rises, increasing inflation and economic uncertainty, and you have good reasons why a number of small business owners might be feeling pressure.

Small business owners and mental health

Given that business performance is so closely linked to an individual’s financial security, personal identity, and sense of self-worth, it’s no surprise that small business owners are particularly vulnerable.

A recent survey confirmed how common it is for small business owners to experience issues with their mental health. In fact, more than half (56 per cent) of small-business operators say running their own business has led to feelings of anxiety or depression.i

Given how common it is to experience these issues as a small business owner, it’s a sad fact that many don’t prioritise their own happiness and health. While 61% acknowledge there is more they can do to improve their wellbeing, one in three (30%) find it difficult to talk about it – and get support.ii

With that kind of gap between acknowledging the importance of self-care and actually making it happen, small business owners need a hand to be at their best. There are a number of ways you can get your wellbeing back on track – and get support to do so.

Prioritising your wellbeing

Running a successful business means checking in regularly and managing the health of the business – looking at factors like revenue, sales, costs etc. Adding in some checks for your health and wellbeing can help you make your wellbeing a KPI.

Think about what good mental and physical health means to you and how you are tracking as far as the general things we all need to do to maintain optimal health. How much sleep are you getting, what are your eating habits like, do you have any time for exercise, have you any unhealthy behaviours or habits you’d like to address?

Prioritise what matters most to you

When you are time poor, something has to give – and often it’s your wellbeing. Place a priority on the things that matter most to you. Try to be ruthless and cut out unnecessary tasks or those that can be delegated or outsourced.

Scheduling ‘me’ time the same way you schedule time for the business can help make self-care happen. Block out time for important activities including breaks away from your desk.

Try to maintain some separation between work and your personal life and ensure you have breaks and tactics to “unplug” mentally and physically from the 24/7 demands of running a business.

Seek support

Support can involve industry groups, networking with peers to discuss issues you have in common or seeking assistance from trusted advisers.
There are also a lot of organisations geared up to provide support. State Governments provide different support programs you can access. The Federal Government also offers NewAccess, a free and confidential, guided mental health coaching program delivered by Beyond Blue to help small business owners.iii

Making your own health and well-being a priority can seem like an impossible notion when you are under the pump but making some tweaks to support your own health can help, not hinder, productivity and business success.

i https://insidesmallbusiness.com.au/management/planning-management/over-half-of-small-business-owners-experience-mental-health-issues
ii https://www.myob.com/au/press-releases/myob-research-finds-mental-health-both-immediate-concern-and-difficult
iii https://business.gov.au/risk-management/mental-health/mental-health-and-wellbeing-support-for-business

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.