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 user 2005-07-14 at 10:56:00 am Views: 38
  • #12239

    Stress Is Part of Owning a Business

    NEW YORK July 05 – Stress is inevitably a part of owning your own business, not just in the company’s formative years, but when big new contracts are landed or something goes awry.

    Many business owners use extracurricular activities such as exercise or yoga to counter stress. But other owners say it took a change in attitude to lower their angst levels.

    After Vivien Teo started a public relations and marketing firm with a partner a year ago, she felt that every client phone call had to be returned immediately, and every request had to be dealt with right away. She got so stressed that everyone in the office avoided her.

    ”I was barking at people. I wasn’t the friendliest boss, and even my business partner didn’t want to be with me,” said Teo, co-owner of Vroom Media Group in New York.

    Her personal life suffered as well. Then, several months ago, when she started having severe back pains, she realized something had to change: her approach to her company.

    ”That was a sign that there was something I wasn’t doing – I wasn’t having fun with the company,” she said.

    Her change in attitude led Teo to modify how she works. She no longer carries a personal digital assistant with e-mail capability. She goes to spas. She’s asked friends to help her reduce her stress. And she’s learned, ”clients are OK if you don’t call them back immediately.”

    It’s important for a business owner to understand where the anxiety is coming from.

    If you’re stressing about a particular problem, the sooner you deal with it, the better, whether it has to do with an employee, your company’s finances, a customer’s threat to leave, or whatever.

    Many business owners have learned they also need to distinguish between the events they can change or control, and those that they can’t. Dealing with the former can relieve the anxiety; stressing over the latter can mean a lot of wasted energy.

    Having the right workers can be a big stress-buster. Jere Smith, who owns a Mr. Transmission auto repair franchise in North Kansas City, Mo., with her husband, said the anxiety levels are less since ”we put a manager in place so we’re less in charge of the day-to-day things.”

    Often, the stress is self-generated.

    ”If you let yourself get too stressed, you’re less effective as a business person – you worry all time,” said Marty Kotis, CEO of Kotis Properties Inc., a Greensboro, N.C., commercial real estate development firm.

    ”Whenever you’ve got a company that you’re trying to grow quickly, you sort of make your own stress,” Kotis said. But, he said, stress is a part of business at any stage of a company’s life.

    ”It keeps going and you learn how to deal with the stress,” said Kotis, who said that the more difficult periods a business owner survives, the easier it should be to handle anxiety-producing situations in the future. In fact, he said, making it through a stressful time can be a confidence builder.

    Kotis, who said he had just completed a 13-mile run before he was interviewed, said he uses exercise to help lower his own stress levels.

    An informal and unscientific sampling of small business owners by The Associated Press found that exercise, yoga or meditation are popular ways for them to unwind. Many also make sure they have outside interests or activities that can divert their attention away from their companies.

    Smith makes it a point of filling her life with non-business pursuits to reduce her stress.

    She said of running a business, ”you just don’t stop thinking about it – what you need to do, about marketing, how the business is going, the employees.” She said she and her husband, Don Leuders, could spend much of their time talking only about the shop.

    Smith said reading, cooking and spending time with the couple’s 15-year-old son have helped her. So has working on tax returns for family and friends; she’s an accountant by training. And she’s active in community organizations.

    Some non-business activities can have the added benefit of helping an owner do some networking and bring in new customers. Smith, who does volunteer work, will often wear a Mr. Transmission T-shirt to casual-dress events, and people notice.

    ”When you have an auto repair shop, most peole want to go where they trust you,” she said