Turf Magazine - July, 2012

FEATURES

8 Simple Stress Busters

Recognize that too much stress is harmful and take action
By Paul Wolbert

Many entrepreneurs say they thrive on stress, but there's an important difference between healthy pressure and toxic stress. One keeps you motivated; the other can wreck your health. Mid summer is especially stressful for landscape company owners, especially this year with no real winter and spring arriving almost a month early in most parts of the country.

Too many contractors seem to view themselves as super heroes and masters of time, tasks, projects and thousands of other responsibilities. They allow many different responsibilities to pull at them simultaneously, and try to shrug it off as the normal wages of doing business.

There are times - and believe me, it's happened to all of us at one time or another - when it all becomes too much and you buckle under the weight of what appears to be the impossible. All small business owners are going to face this at some point during their careers, and may reach a point where they wonder what they were thinking by starting a small business. Do you lose sight of the fact that you started your businesses with the goal of providing a better lifestyle for yourselves and for your families?

Yes, as owners and operators, you're responsible for the success of your companies and that comes with a price, but the good news is that moments of genuine anxiety only need to be temporary. Yes, you can make a conscious choice to alleviate stress and stay focused on your business if you try these few simple things that usually work for me:

1. Think positive - So much of business-induced anxiety is caused by negative thought patterns. Thinking positive is an exercise in weeding out the harmful thoughts. It means you properly dispose of the negative and accentuate the positive.

2. Let it go - Most of the things we worry about are beyond our control. As a small business owner, learn to accept your limitations and let the rest go. After all, why worry over something you have no control over?

3. Relax - Take some time to learn a few relaxation exercises, and do them. Breathing exercises, meditation, even hitting a bucket of golf balls or baseballs can fend off the stress and restore your mind and body. This can help you nip stress in the bud, before it consumes you.

4. Exercise regularly - We all have a priority in running our own business. We have plenty of excuses for not exercising, mainly that we don't have time. We need to make time. Being in shape is essential to deflecting the corrosive effects of too much stress.

5. Eat healthy - Diet is on the other side of the coin from exercise. Combined, they go a long way in building up the body's immune system. Eat smart. We all know how hard it is to not go for the super-sized "quick" lunch; this only adds fuel for stress.

6. Learn to say no - Small business owners are usually stuck with having to do it all. If the job doesn't fit with your expertise, don't commit to doing it. In other words, it is best to say no, especially if it is going to pull you in yet another direction and cause more distractions.

7. Get enough sleep - Deadlines have a tendency to keep us up at all hours of the night. Our mind starts racing to complete the final deliverable. Bottom line: get a good night's sleep. Your body needs the restorative powers of sleep to rebuild its defenses for the next day. This time of the year the weather can cause all kinds of issues for us and we need to be at peak performance.

8. Practice better time management - Find a time management system and stick with it. Plan your time and start delegating some of the tasks you've been doing to other appropriate team members. If you can, use an online tool to manage the daily workflow of your business. We all use technology. Make it work for you. Most of the Web-based tools out there do a great job at taking on most of the workload that would otherwise fall onto your shoulders. Project management tools are great for delegating, communicating and collaborating with your team and with clients.

Remember the better you are at managing your own stress, the more you'll positively affect your employees working for you, and the less other people's stress will negatively affect you.

With more than 30 years of experience in franchising, sales and business operations, Paul Wolbert knows franchising like the back of his hand. He helps potential new franchisees make their decision to come into the market, and his in-depth knowledge of the green industry allows him to keep the U.S. Lawns marketing plan on target for franchisees' growth and for all divisions of U.S. Lawn's business to thrive in any economy. He has helped build the U.S. Lawn business to where it is today.