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Maintaining Professional Wellness: An Interview with Natalie Egan
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Did you know June is “Professional Wellness Month”? This initiative was created in 2009 by Virgin HealthMiles, as a means of developing successful strategies to help improve productivity and sustain a healthy work environment.* Taking time out for yourself, reducing your stress levels and finding new ways to improve your work-life balance work hand in hand when it comes to maintaining professional wellness.

To shed some light on this topic, we interviewed SCORE client Natalie Egan of Jump! Gymnastics. Natalie, the owner/director of this Texas-based gymnastics program for children, recently celebrated seven years in business. During that time she has endured many growing pains in finding the right balance in professional wellness.

Natalie shared with us several tips for how small business owners can create professional wellness -  something that benefits not only themselves, but their employees as well.

What are some tips on managing stress, a big part of professional wellness, when first starting a business?

There will be several weeks/months that you work 16 hour days to get started, so when you wake up one day and you realize there is nothing to do, or you are in a holding pattern, don’t look for stuff. Grab a book, go to the movies, go camping. REST in the valley for a minute because the next hill is right around the corner and you need your energy and a fresh, uncluttered mind to navigate it.

What tips would you give more ‘seasoned’ owners?

After the start-up phase winds down, if you still find yourself working 50+ hours a week, hire someone to help you. The best advice I ever got was, “If you are working 50+ hours a week and your business is making money, your business is still a failure.”  I was confused and appalled by this comment for a while, I felt like my mentor was devaluing my hard work and I didn’t feel that I had enough money/security to spend money on someone to help me. Furthermore, I didn’t have the time to train someone to help me. Some time went by and with a lot of convincing, I hired a manager/assistant. My life as a small business owner changed… I was working about 30 hours a week and was able to really appreciate what I had built and spend quality time with my clients and employees. My mentor was right…the money was fine and I was happier, my employees were happier and my clients were better taken care of.

Is there anything you do daily to maintain professional wellness?

Interesting question. I had a friend who started a business a bit before I did. I asked her this same question.  She said, “It’s easy – I put in a 10 hour day, then there can be no guilt when I decide to stop working.”  This actually works on those days that you have so much to do, but you are so tired or overwhelmed that you know you are not being productive and your time would be better spent winding down and relaxing.

What else?  I work from home in the mornings and do not go into work until enough of my work is done that I can be 100% available to my employees and clients. If I cannot accomplish that and it is not vital that I come in that day, I stay home and finish my work because I am no good to anyone if I am not committed to giving them my undivided attention while at work.

What advice do you have for someone who may be dealing with a stressful situation and is looking for balance?

Do what is in front of you. Instead of freaking out, re-hashing the situation, complaining, feeling sorry for yourself, just start repairing the problem. Do the work that is in front of you and what needs to be done to move from the situation. Take action.

Source: Doctorbev

 

Aliana Marino - Communications Manager, SCORE
Aliana is passionate about helping small businesses thrive and getting the word out about the great work SCORE mentors do across the country.
score.org | Facebook | @SCOREmentors | More from Aliana

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Overcoming Obstacles To Business Growth
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What’s holding your small business back from growth? According to a survey of small business owners by Hiscox, 31 percent of entrepreneurs are hampered by government regulations, 23 percent cite a lack of available funding or support, 12 percent have trouble finding the right employees and 8 percent have been held back by natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods.

Legal issues plague other entrepreneurs—13 percent have been sued by an employee, vendor or customer. Almost half of those say the lawsuit hurt their businesses financially (29 percent), caused the loss of customers (13 percent) or hurt their reputation (12 percent).

Surprisingly, given recent headlines about data breaches and hacking, just 4 percent of the small business owners surveyed are concerned about data or security breaches potentially exposing their data or hurting their sales.

How can small business owners get around these obstacles?

  • Make your voice heard. Learn who your state and local representatives are, and make your views known to them. Join and support small business organizations that share your views and work for change. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • Explore your financing options. The time to look into finding financing is before you need it—not when you’re in a cash crunch. Talk to your business banker regularly about growth plans, how much capital they’ll require and how the bank can help you.
  • Cast a wider net. If you can’t find employees with the skills you need, tap into local colleges, universities and adult education programs. Consider hiring virtual employees or outsourcing to independent contractors. Reach out to all your contacts—professional and personal, online and offline.
  • Plan for disasters. Develop a disaster plan so you’re prepared for emergencies big and small. Ready.gov is a great resource for this.
  • Protect your business. Insurance can protect your business against lawsuits, disasters, theft and more, but only if you’ve got the insurance you need. Make insurance a financial priority, and meet with your insurance agent annually to review and update your coverage.
  • Protect your data. If a security breach can happen to a huge corporation like Target, it can certainly happen to your small business. Put processes and systems in place to secure your company’s and customers’ key data and make sure that employees understand and follow those rules. There’s even specialized insurance available to protect against data breaches too.

Challenges aren’t dampening small business owners’ spirits, though. In spite of the obstacles they face, 93 percent of entrepreneurs in the survey say confidence is key to helping them succeed.

Meeting with a SCORE mentor can boost your business confidence by giving you the foundation you need to succeed. Don’t have a mentor? Visit www.score.org to get matched with one today.

Rieva Lesonsky - CEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship.
www.growbizmedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

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