Let’s be honest: being a self-employed tradesman can be incredibly stressful.
If it isn’t the constant need to find new jobs and manage schedules that do your nut in, it’s quarrelsome clients and the never-ending nightmare of managing your accounts that’s enough to leave you questioning why you ever set up your own business in the first place.
Still, if you’re going to make that business a success, it’s important to keep your mental health in top condition.
With Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 now upon us, we thought now would be the perfect opportunity to share some valuable tips on dealing with the pressures of running your own business and controlling stress before stress controls you.
Remember you’re not superhuman – keep things manageable
Being self-employed means the temptation always exists to say ‘yes’ to every job that comes your way, no matter how demanding it might be. After all, you never know when you might hit a quiet period, so you might as well take on every scrap of work you can get whilst the going’s good, right?
Agreeing on a Monday morning to get half a dozen big jobs finished by Friday afternoon is only asking for trouble. As tempting as it might be then, remember that no matter how good a tradesman you are, you simply can’t do everything all at once. Take on only as much work as you can realistically handle and be honest with your customers about when you’re likely to get their job done.
Being upfront with customers that the work will take longer than they’d like is always going to be better than making yourself ill trying to meet an impossible deadline and still missing it – which will only make your customers angry and add even more stress on top of everything else!
Being a sole trader doesn’t always mean you have to fly solo
If you have taken on too much work, or if an opportunity comes in that’s just too good to miss, there’s nothing in the Tradesman’s Rule Book that says you have to do it all yourself.
Bringing in someone to help you may mean you don’t make as much profit, but it does mean you’re much more likely to keep your customers happy and your mental health in good nick, leaving you free and healthy to work again another day.
Routines are your friend
Stop laughing – we’re serious!
Yes, it’s true, the terms “running your own business” and “having a routine” aren’t usually compatible. If you’re not rushing off to a last-minute job, you’re fighting your way through traffic on an emergency run to the suppliers or taking phone calls from customers whilst trying to enjoy a quiet night in front of the telly.
That said, creating even a loosely-defined routine can work wonders for combating stress.
You might, for example, decide that the first hour of every day is set aside for admin and marketing tasks and that Friday afternoons are all about downing tools and getting on top of the accounts.
Simplify & streamline
The most stressful part about running your trade business isn’t doing the actual work for customers, is it? Compared to dealing with the paperwork, the accounting, invoicing and marketing, picking up the tools is a walk in the park.
Fortunately, modern technology means there are all kinds of tools you can use to simplify and streamline all that stressful and annoying stuff, leaving you physically and mentally free to get on with the parts of your job you enjoy the most.
You could, for example, use bookkeeping or invoicing software to put many of the boring, time-consuming accounting tasks on autopilot, or use tools like Hootsuite to schedule all your social media posts so that marketing is one less thing you have to worry about.
Get out & get active
This is the point in most stress-busting articles when you’re told to start busting out some Downward Dog at a yoga class, or to work yourself into a sweat-soaked stupor at the gym.
Sure, both can be incredibly effective at beating stress, but you don’t have to go to such extremes. Even a game of five-a-side with the lads or a jog around the park can work wonders.
Exercise is known to release endorphins, which are chemicals in the body which leave us feeling calm and happy, so get out there and get active.
Take a break
Trust us, the world won’t end if you take a few days off to rest, relax, and re-charge.
Take a look at your schedule for a period where you don’t already have jobs booked in, and keep them free so that you can enjoy some well-earned time off. You can always book in new customers for a later date, but for now, your mental health comes first. After all, the success of your business depends on it.
If you’re a self-employed tradesman struggling with stress, help is at hand. Call Mind on 0300 123 3393 or visit them at www.mind.org.uk.