Managing Stress & Anxiety Whilst Running Your Own Business

By Amanda Cavallaro

‘Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle’ – Bill Phillips

Business, can be both an empowering experience and a battle of stress and uncertainty all at the same time. The stress of growing your business and the day to day tasks that come with it, the ongoing uncertainties of ‘will I make enough money’, balancing work/life commitments whilst maintaining your own health and self-care. Stress is common amongst entrepreneur’s and surprisingly the right amount in short bursts CAN be healthy for a business, it can help you stay more alert and improve performance levels! Unfortunately, when stress turns into anxiety is when it can become a detriment to your health, emotional wellbeing and business.

There is no doubt that running your own business can be a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, fears and stresses. The key to stress is not only learning how to handle it but also learning how to channel that stress and anxiety into a positive driving force and energy to fuel creativity, passion and innovation throughout your business. There are several challenges that come with running your own business such as, workload, staff and customer management, maintaining a Healthy Balance (Home/Work), financial Stressors and a change of conditions (Product demand, Environmental and External factors). These challenges can often result in prolonged stress and anxiety which can appear in both physical and non-physical ways in the body. Here are some common (although not restricted to) signs to look out for..

  • Feelings of Overwhelm

  • Frustration

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Loss or change in appetite

  • Problems sleeping

  • Headaches, muscle tension

  • Decrease in Immune System (find yourself getting sick more often)

  • Nausea

  • Constipation/Diarrhea

  • Racing heart

  • Feelings of Unhappiness

  • Feelings of Guilt

  • Constant Negative Thinking

  • Memory Loss

Symptoms differ from person to person, I guess it’s fair to say that we all deal with pressure, stress and anxiety so differently. Each individual will notice they experience those symptoms with different intensities and frequencies. So, what do I do if I am feeling this way I hear you ask??? Below I have included some of my Top Tips to help you better manage your stress and anxiety whilst running your business and improve your performance.

1. Have realistic expectations of yourself and the business.
As we all know we are so hard on ourselves! Ensuring you set realistic expectations of yourself as well as the performance of your business will minimize guilt and disappointment. The key here is to set goals or have expectations that are realistic and within the capabilities of you and your business. Be specific when setting goals this allows them to be more measurable and as a result more achievable.      

2. Celebrate your Wins
We are so quick to mourn our losses or focus on our stressors that we often forget to celebrate our wins. It is so important to be mindful of this rather than being caught up in the moment and automatically placing your focus on the next task. Your wins big or small are just as important to fuss over as your ‘losses’, it can be motivating and a great way to remind you to focus on the positive elements rather than the negative. This can be something simple you do for yourself and or your staff (such as going for lunch).

3. Sleep and Eating
The importance of good Sleep is underrated in our go-getter society. Sleep is not only crucial for our day to day functioning and health, but also our bodies way of having some time out to heal and re focus. Lack of sleep not only heightens your anxiety, impairs your judgement and affects your memory but also lowers your immune system. A good balanced diet is also another essential to your health, wellbeing and performance. It can be very easy to skip meals and survive on caffeine when busy with work. It’s sometimes so much more convienent to just reach for the easy option... or even at times nothing at all! Food preparation is great for those busy days, having easy on hand snacks to munch on (such as fruit, healthy dips and vegie sticks, prepared salads etc.). H2O is also another important one, keep a bottle at your desk as a reminder and be creative by adding fruit and fresh herbs such as mint to your water to make it more tasty and exciting!

4. Communication is Key!
If you have staff working with you in your business, communication is key! Discuss an open communication channel to allow everyone to be free to discuss concerns or worries they may have or you may want to bring up in relation to their work. Being open with each other reduces the anxiety and apprehension that sometimes comes along with dealing with disagreements or not seeing eye to eye. As a business owner, it is also very beneficial to have someone to regularly talk to such as a close friend or relative or even a business coach, psychologist or counsellor.

5. Maintain a healthy Work Life Balance
The temptation to give up all your time and energy and place it in to your business when it’s your own is very common amongst business owners. You want to do the best you can and give it your all. This can result in long work hours at the sacrifice of your family and heath. It is super important to set healthy boundaries in order to maintain a good balance between work and home life to prevent burnout, especially when working from home. Some of these boundaries may include setting specific work hours (9am-5pm) and then no work-related calls or emails after that time or setting aside allocated time to work on answering emails etc. out of those hours. One of those boundaries may include having weekends off to spend with friends and family or just time for you to unwind and re energise for the week ahead. Be sure to look out for warning signs and act accordingly.

6. Keep Active
Physical exercise is not only good for our physical wellbeing but also our emotional and mental wellbeing. It produces all those happy hormones we LOVE and gives us more energy. It is important to keep active especially if you are stuck behind a desk or computer all day. Get in the habit of scheduling time in your week for a walk, jog or even a class of your choice to get those muscles moving!  

7. Take a Break
We are working harder than ever and unfortunately it is at the cost of our physical and mental health! Just because it is YOUR business and there is no one there telling you to go and have some lunch or take a simple break, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it – be sure to take a lunch break and schedule time throughout your day even if it is 10 min time slots to stretch or go for a quick walk. We all know the feeling of a mind block, sometimes a quick change in environment gets those creative juices flowing again and gives you the recharge you need to keep powering through!

Many of us go by the concept that if our business is not the TOP priority in our lives we are not doing everything we can to make it successful. That we are in a sense ‘neglecting’ something that could be ‘better’ or ‘more’ amazing than we could ever imagine. The matter really isn’t that at all, the reality is that by making our selves the top priority in our lives, our business as a result will flourish.  

Amanda Cavallaro is a Anxiety Coach, Mum and face behind The Anxiety Wellness Queen. She is passionate about reducing the stigma associated with mental health and making a difference in the management and approach to treating anxiety. Amanda loves to travel and cook, she find it very relaxing and therapeutic. In the last 2 years her business has moved solely online and now works with clients all over Australia via phone and skype to manage their anxieties. Amanda has recently started a blog to share her knowledge and passion with the world.  You can find her on Facebook or Instagram.

Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi on Unsplash

Biz Mama Series // Remote-Controlling Our Kids

By Ximena Santibañez

Do you ever wish your kids had a pause button, an on/off switch, or a mute button? No guilt or shame, it does’t mean you are a bad mom; nor does it say anything about how much you love your children. There is an explanation behind it.

We are the first fully technologically immersed generations that see TV, the telephone, computers, and electricity as something normal. We were nannied by TVs. We played with computers and video games. We are the generation that added motors to bikes, skates, scooters, and nearly any tool we can think of. 

If we cannot imagine life without electric appliances, the truth of the matter is that our kids may not imagine life without the internet or digital technology. 

But what does this really mean to us? It means that our capacity to wait, endure, and tolerate is diminished. That is why we look for things to stop whatever might disturb us, including a crying baby or the traditional “are we there yet?”. We are used to getting "there" faster and  getting "that" done easier. However, the generations before us did not let us get away with that so easily. The fact that we had access to a dishwasher didn’t stop us from learning how to do our dishes. Nor did we get away with not learning how to do many other manual labors or chores. We had to sit at the table with everyone else, eat what everyone else ate, watch what everyone else watched; and even share not only one phone line, but also a family computer! 

That allowed us to wait, to negotiate, endure, persuade, communicate, and develop more skills that children today don't get a chance to obtain. 

Human beings cannot create and innovate unless we are lacking amusement, fulfillment, supplies, etc. Scarcity and lack are our incentives to make things work and happen.

Just imagine and step into your kids’ shoes for a little bit. What is their incentive to learn if they can Google? What is the incentive to learn Math if they can use an app? Why should they create and imagine when they see that everything has been done and said before? Their incentive is someone so loving that will allow them to be bored. Someone so strong that will rather deal with a messy kitchen and a loud backyard than with her kids being diagnosed with ADHD or depression before reaching their teenage years. Someone so brave that she'll say "no" even though it breaks her heart to hear "I hate you" or see them cry. Someone who will be tough enough to let them experience the world first hand now and then, even when that means some scratches and bruises.

Just like we had those previous generations who taught old rhymes, games, and traditions; now is the time for us to share ours. 

We can share the stories that no video or photo could capture, so that they'll learn some things do not need to be recorded to be remembered. We can introduce them concepts like "friends" and "groups" that you cannot just add or block. The type that you actually need to create and maintain throughout the years, not just when there’s “activity”. We can remind them of the value of "private" and "unique" by sharing with them secrets and deep conversations.

Then, once we have done all of that, there will come a time when we will need to hold their hands and guide them as they start taking photos, and communicating online. We will need to be there when they are joining and downloading, and setting up profiles. We will need to learn about the digital world and new apps with them, as they learn about them.

In the end, we will not be able to block or shut down the digital world that is developing around them. Just like we weren’t able to pause, mute, or turn them off when we were overwhelmed. But we can be present, keep learning, be patient and loving; not only with our kids, but with ourselves as parents.

You can find more of Ximena's work here.

10 Online Tools Your New Business Can’t Live Without

By Haley Brown

 There has never really been a better time to start a business.

Thanks to the Internet, anyone can virtually launch and build a startup or lifestyle business. Just take a look at all these online tools and products at your disposal.

I have personally been using online tools in my business. For most small business owners including myself, the ultimate goal is to overcome the little hurdles in running the business and get more done in the smallest time possible. And I’m a huge advocate for setting your business up for success from the start. If you start out with the right tools, as your business grows you won't need to waste time, money and resources on upgrading them down the track.

So the question is, which tool should you choose? Which one could work best for your business?

Here’s a list of my most tried, tested and trusted online tools, which I’m sure you’ll find helpful in your search to save time and money.

1.    Project Management

Asana
Asana practically manages my life. This project management tool helps me organise workloads among my team. You can manage different tasks and assign them to each member of your team, track the progress of each project from start to finish, and even turn conversations into tasks. It saves precious time than constantly communicating with them over the phone or via email.

Trello
Trello is another project management tool I use. Compared with Asana, Trello is more visually appealing. Here you can see all your tasks laid out across the screen – like virtual sticky notes on a virtual cork board. You can create boards and label them with tasks and then simply drag and drop items to mark your progress.

2.    Email Management
It's a terrible idea to mix web hosting with email hosting. If one goes down, it all goes down. In maritime tradition, a captain always goes down with his ship. If the ship sinks, well, so long Cap’n!

Your web hosting account is the ship in this story.

Now raise your hand if you’ve never had downtime on a host. I don’t even need to see you to know your hand’s not raised. Every host* – even the top-notch ones – experience occasional downtime.

Now raise your hand if your email is a critical part of your business? My hand’s up. I conduct a tonne of business through email, so losing access to email is more than just an inconvenience – it’s a show stopper.

G Suite
Trust Google to give you the best business cloud apps and collaboration tools. G Suite includes Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and Calendar among others. Here I can easily manage emails, chats and even video meetings.

3.    Proposals

 Better Proposals
When you are running a creative agency, writing proposals can be tricky. So rather than spending hours formatting my proposals, I use Better Proposals. It’s easy to choose from their customisable templates. Once you’ve chosen a template, you can type in your proposal and send them via an attractive email template with your logo on it.

4.    Lead Generation

MailChimp
Who doesn’t know MailChimp? It’s my go-to tool for email automation, newsletter processes and lead generation. MailChimp allows me to easily build my email list and create landing pages for my email leads.

MailerLite
MailerLite may be a lesser-known email automation tool but is actually a formidable contender when it comes to lead generation. For one, this tool features more attractive templates and an easy-to-use landing page and pop-up forms builder.

5.    Accounting

 Wave Accounting
I manage business receipts and invoices using Wave. It has basic accounting features and is extremely easy to navigate. Best of all, it’s free. This is perfect for those who are just starting with their business.

QuickBooks Online
You may find that Wave’s capabilities are limited, so QuickBooks might be your best bet. This software is equipped with advanced functionalities an expanding business will need. The basic plan is incredibly affordable, and you can scale up according to your requirements.

6.    CRM

HubSpot
HubSpot may be better known as a marketing and sales platform but it also has a CRM software. Other platforms can be too complicated to use, but HubSpot is not. Also, the pipeline management system is a gem. It lets you sift through your leads and focus on the quality ones.

SalesFlare
What I like about SalesFlare is that it offloads you from the tedious and repetitive task of encoding customer data. This CRM practically fills itself out and syncs contact details with your email, phone and calendar.

And that’s a wrap

These tools have a huge impact on the success of my business. Think of it as the oil to your car’s engine. It makes for a much smoother ride. These tools may have worked for me but it’s also best if you take the time to research and do some trial runs before deciding to invest.

What are your favorite tools? Which online apps and business software you feel you can’t live without?

Haley is the straight-shooting head honcho of Brand Shack, guru in all things websites and branding. Crediting her success not only to her design skills but to her processes and project management that allow her to run her business from wherever her travels take her.

When not backstroking in branding, she loves nothing more than travelling the globe on her quest to find the perfect pina colada.

Ideas On Demand // How To Be Creative When You’re Stuck In A Rut

By Alice McKenzie

For those in the creative industries, it’s a familiar feeling—you can almost hear the clock ticking down to to your deadline, but there’s just nothing going on upstairs. I’ve dabbled in writing in all of its glorious forms, with a background as a copywriter for the advertising industry.

While musicians have songs, and authors have books, my ‘creative currency’ was ideas. If I didn’t come up with a strong idea, then I wasn’t bringing the goods. Talk about pressure. But this wasn’t a problem that I was alone in facing. The more advertising folk I got chatting to, the more I realised that everyone had their little secrets to trick their brains into coming up with something surprising.

You see, the first thing to understand is what an idea really is. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every campaign. You don’t have to come up with an entire app that’s going to change the way that people see/use/buy x.

Ideas are just new ways of looking at the world, or specifically, new connections between known things. It’s the ‘known things’ part that few people appreciate. In order to really click, to get people to get it, ideas need to be partly familiar. They need to share a common thread with an audience, a requisite base from which to introduce something new.

So, what do these insights mean?

a) You can draw inspiration from the world around you.
b) Fresh stimulation is going to help you find new connections.
c) Those connections could already be lurking in your untapped subconscious.

It should be noted that while these tips lend themselves to creative copywriting, there’s wiggle room to adapt these ways of thinking to solve just about any business or branding problem. After all, advertising is just solving businesses’ problems, right? Before you can implement any of these methods, you need to be armed with a robust creative brief.

Knowing about the product/service/company is great and all, but at the heart of it should be a unique selling proposition (USP). You know the ones:
X car brings families together.
Y cologne makes you irresistible.
Z paint lasts a lifetime.

One ad or piece of writing should equal one selling point.

1. Just get it down
If you’re not afraid to feel like a total idiot, and can accept that seemingly silly steps are all part of the sacred ‘creative process’, then this one is for you. I’m a fan of the good old Sharpie and A3 sheets of paper, but use whatever brainstorming materials that work for you. Draw 10 blank boxes on your page. Don’t worry about a ruler; these are for your purposes only. Write your USP at the top of the page. This should always be displayed prominently so that you never veer too far off-brief.

Now you want to fill your boxes with the first things that come to mind for this brief, no matter how obvious or stupid. If your mind is racing, fill out 50, or 100. They could be words, drawings, whatever. Your boxes don’t need to resemble print ads; this is just to segment your trains of thought. This method has a number of benefits. Most obviously, it flushes out the cliched first thoughts. It’s a well known truth that you can’t get rid of these niggling thoughts by just ignoring them; after a few hours they’ll return and start to seem like good ideas. Just get them out and put them in the pile.

Secondly, by drawing or writing your ideas, you’re helping your mind to see them as physical things. Shape, colour, texture, spelling, placement—these things can all be the springboard for new connections, which would otherwise have been lost in the depths of your mind. By forcing yourself to fill all the boxes available, you are encouraging yourself to look at things differently. Time restrictions can be a useful (albeit stressful) tool in coming up with new connections.

2. The dictionary method
Flip open the dictionary to a random page. Close your eyes and drop your finger somewhere on that page. This word, no matter how bizarre, is now your central focus: one of your known things. Within thirty seconds of finding your word, start writing. Anything. First person, third person. Fiction, non fiction. Don’t let your pen leave the page for 5 minutes. It will feel dumb. Your writing will most likely be completely senseless, but sometimes that’s all it takes to find something new.

Wade through that shocking excuse for writing, and just see where your brain goes. A slight twist on this method is a personal favourite of mine. If you’ve been given an impossible brief, vent it out through a pen rather than bashing that precious brain against the wall. Using the same non-stop writing approach, write about why you hate your client, what they want you to do, why it’s difficult with that product etc. There’s no greater motivation to write quickly than pure rage, and you might just find that letting emotion in could be the new perspective you needed.

3. Stimulate the senses
It’s quite remarkable how much of a role our senses play in our thinking. If you’re trying to market a particular product, it is a worthwhile idea to see it, touch it, smell it. Use it how it is intended to be used. Try to understand why the USP was chosen. Reading a brief can only give you so much information. It takes a little on-the-ground research to make up your own mind, and come up with genuine ideas. If you want to help the process along, introduce new things into your routine. Walk home via a different route.

Go to a different shopping centre to do your grocery shopping. We tend to filter out the everyday parts of our lives, so stimulating your mind and body with new places can help to spark creative thinking.

4. Give up (briefly)
Only recommended after a few days of solid brainstorming, this is less of a method and more of a necessary step. You’ve been furiously scribbling, and you have piles of paper to show for it. You may have hallucinated once or twice. You’re no longer sure of the difference between a good idea and a bad idea, and oh God you need sleep.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the point where you’re officially allowed to give up. It might be a few hours, it might be a day, depending on your deadline. You’ve tuckered out your little brain with product overload, so now you need to trust it to do its thing. Do something totally unrelated to your brief. Take a shower. Read a book. Draw. Work on a menial task.

The theory here is that while your brain takes a much needed break on the surface, the cogs are still turning in your subconscious, ready to burst forth with your idea.

Alice loves ideas and hates incorrect apostrophes. She’s the one woman army behind Beetroot Creative, a copywriting service for little brands with big stories to tell. Stalking is encouraged on Facebook and Instagram, or make yourself comfortable at beetrootcreative.com.au.

How To Choose The Best Web Designer For Your Small Business

By Ange Hammond

Whether you’re just starting out in business or you’re looking to take your business to the next level, there comes a time when you’ll consider getting professional help with your website. When you’re swamped with a growing to-do list, hiring a website designer can be just the lightbulb moment of clarity you’re looking for. Or it can be an experience you’ll want to forget, big time.

I’ve heard all the stories. The small business owner who paid top dollar for a simple 5-page website designed by a large creative agency. The freelancer who paid a deposit to a website designer who started out doing a good job on their design but then seemed to fall off the face of the earth, never to be reached again. And then there’s the entrepreneur who wanted to save money and signed up for a fiverr-type gig only to be bitterly disappointed with the results.

The problem is there are just so many web designers out there! In a time when starting your own business has become the new black, everyone with a bit of computer know-how is giving the ‘web designer’ label a spin around the block and it’s difficult to spot the good from the inexperienced.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, let’s explore some things to look at when trusting your beloved online home to someone. You want to look for someone who’s the right fit for you and the type of small business you’re running. You want someone who knows SEO and will implement this on your website while they’re building it. You want someone who has both design sense and functionality in mind, not to mention your ideal client.

Judge a web designer by their website
Just like any other service or product we want to invest in, visiting a web designer’s website gives you valuable insights into their skills before going ahead with them. Have a think about the following questions when browsing their website:

  • Is there a logical flow of information?
  • Has the content on each page been broken up by photos and graphics to make it easier to read?
  • Is it easy to navigate around the website?
  • Is the website visually appealing to you?
  • Do their blog posts demonstrate the knowledge and expertise they possess?

Have a good look at their portfolio and get a feel for their design style. Each website they’ve created will be different of course, but there’ll generally be a consistent style to their designs. If their past projects resonate with you, it’s a good sign you’ve found your match.

Word of mouth
Rather than googling for a website designer, which will more often than not just expose you to the world of big design agencies, ask some business besties who you trust to give you some recommendations. There’s nothing better than word of mouth to find the best people to outsource to. If you’re still struggling to find the right fit, put a post on your favourite Facebook business group and see who’s out there in your community. Perhaps it goes without saying but do not engage with website designers who spam-email you, telling you that they can build your website on WordPress for $100. Only place your trust in a website designer who leaves you feeling that they understand you and your business.

The quote
When receiving a quote from a website designer, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure are included:

  • Your website will be both designed and developed by them.
    There are graphic designers who design websites but do not build them. If this is the road you want to go down, just make sure you’re aware of this and that you’ll be paying website developer fees on top of their quote.
  • Some SEO tasks are included.
    These tasks might include some keyword research, keyword placement for your pages’ titles and descriptions and your images being optimised for web. If there’s no mention of any of these things, ask them. These tasks form the basis of your website’s SEO and really are a no-brainer that they’re included.
  • Check the platform your website is being built on.
    I recommend doing some research on the platform of your choice (eg. WordPress, SquareSpace, Shopify, etc) and finding a web designer who specialises in it. There are many platforms to choose from so it’s important to choose the right one for the type of business you’re running. Keep in mind any website functions you want to include in a year’s time… plan ahead so you’re not having to change platforms down the track.

And then there’s the price. If your instinct is telling you that the website designer is the perfect fit for you but they’re a little bit out of your price range, have a chat to them about it. Chances are that they will be flexible and can give you a suitable payment plan so that you can pay off the project price in instalments. There may be some of the website features that you’re wanting that aren’t super urgent and they can be done at a later date when you have more funds to invest in your quality website.

Your website is one of the most important assets you possess when it comes to your business. It’s where your desired clients go to find out whether they want to work with you. It’s where your customers window-shop your latest products and purchase them online. Your website is just like a brick-and-mortar shopfront, only it’s on the internet, and it deserves the right person to create it and it’s also worth the investment. Taking the time to consider the options, coupled with trusting your intuition will ensure your future website takes your business to new heights.

Ange Hammond is an inspired web designer at Resonant Imagery who loves creating vibrant and easy-to-navigate websites. She’s most at home when helping clients attract more of the very people who can benefit from their valuable services and products. Using an intuitive design process, Ange creates beautiful, informative and professional websites that’ll do wonders for any small business.