Are you stressed? I don’t know many small business owners who are immune from the stresses of starting, managing and growing their businesses. It’s all part of the process, and it’s how you handle the stress that often makes the difference between it being positive, action-oriented stress and negative, progress-stopping stress.

Here are four commonsense ways to get a handle on small business stress that may be preventing you from operating at peak performance.

Control the Flow of Information

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Information overload is one of the most common sources of stress for small business owners. Once you embrace technology (necessary for successful small business owners!) and open yourself up to information flowing in from different paths (email, phone, social media, instant messaging, RSS feeds, etc.), you may face information overload if you don’t have some gate-keeping tactics in place to protect your time and keep stress levels down.

Here are some of the ways I do this in my own business to control the flow of information:

  • I shut off email notifications (I check it manually, when I’m ready to focus on it).
  • I don’t keep instant messaging tools on all of the time (only for pre-scheduled meetings).
  • I subscribe to email lists sparingly (only messages that are relevant and interesting to me).
  • I use social media tools for scheduling and tracking (HootSuite and Social Report are among my favorites).


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A common thread for many successful small business owners is having a vision and being able to execute it. This kind of vision and follow through allows for amazing and inspiring things to happen. The problem is, unless the entrepreneur is able to delegate from the beginning of the process, it ties the entrepreneur directly to the success (or failure) of the business. He or she BECOMES the business.

There are a lot of benefits to building a brand based on you, but it also makes it immensely difficult to step back and let the wheels keep moving without you. Learning how to delegate can not only allow you to grow your business to new levels, but it can also put you in a position to be able to take a break and know that things are still progressing in your absence.

Create and Follow a Plan

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Small business stress can also come from not having a plan or having a loose plan but not knowing how to put it into action. This is why it’s so important to have a plan for different aspects of your business that is more than “fluff.” Your plans need to actually outline where you are right now, where you want to go, and specifically what you will do to get there.

This is exactly what I covered in the business start-up workshop I did at the recent Type-A Parent Conference. Two of the most important plans for small business owners at all stages of business are a business plan and a marketing plan.

The links below will help you get started creating simple, useable and relevant plans that aren’t overwhelming and will help you outline specific steps you need to take in your business:

Schedule Downtime

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If you are a scheduled, organized entrepreneur, you may have a calendar so packed with tasks, meetings and projects that it can be a challenge to find time to relax. The best solution to this problem is actually scheduling in downtime. If it’s on the schedule, you’re less likely to book something else during that time, and more likely to stick to it and make it a priority.

Here are some relaxation resources that will help you explore ideas for stress relief, websites to unwind with, CDs for relaxation and more tips for hitting the reset button.

Stress relief and management is an ongoing process for most of us. How do you manage stress in your small business? Share your tips in the comments.

Image credit (chewed pencil): protego
Image credit (line of people): cobrasoft
Image credit (delegation): zudy-box
Image credit (planning): cmcderm1
Image credit (calendar): arkitekt