Tag: business

How to Grow Your Business Like a Bodybuilder

How to Grow Your Business Like a Bodybuilder

If you’re into bodybuilding, or know someone who is, you’ll have invariably heard the phrases ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ before.

For those that don’t know, bulking is the phase bodybuilders go through when they are attempting to pile on more mass during ‘off-season’.

Cutting, on the other hand, is the process of dieting that bodybuilders go through to strip their body of excess fat and water so they look as ripped as possible on-stage.

By now, you may be thinking, this is a business blog – why are you talking about bodybuilding?

Well, strangely, there are very similar parallels between the two.

Cut away the intricacies, and strip them both back to basics – business and bodybuilding – and you ultimately have a situation where you are trying to build something. Be it your body, or your business.

And in building something, you inevitably face phases whereby you focus on growth, and also phases where you strip things back a little.

No business can continue to grow infinitely and uninterrupted, and no growth cycle is ever as smooth as it looks from the outside.

There are mistakes, strategic changes, recruitment drives, employment cuts, investment, and divestment – until the business reaches its optimal performance.

A businesses’ bulking cycle could be seen as the process of investment – through recruitment drives, property purchases, business infrastructure, more stock, and so on.

But, as with bodybuilding, you cannot go through a bulking cycle (regardless of how clean you eat or how hard you train) and not also gain some amount of fat and water retention. It is impossible.

In the case of a business, the ‘fat’ could be seen as overstaffing in certain areas, overstock on certain product lines that don’t sell that fast, excess/unused office or warehouse space, and so on.

These are the natural (and inevitable) side-effects of growth – it’s impossible to maintain perfection during a growth cycle. You WILL gain some unwanted by-products from the growth process – it’s precisely why bodybuilders go through the bulking and cutting cycle. If it was possible to maintain competition physique whilst gaining more mass in a bulking cycle, then these cycles wouldn’t exist – bodybuilders would just constantly ‘bulk’.

So, then comes the ‘cut’.

When the dust has settled during a growth phase, and the business can be analysed in the areas of profitability and efficiency, the business leaders will then go through a phase of stripping any unnecessary ‘fat’ from within the business.

They’ll cut staff, refine their stock holding and discount/discontinue slow-moving lines, they’ll re-organise processes to gain more efficiency, and they may even dispose of unwanted or unprofitable assets within the business.

Until, down the line, the business has retained much of the revenue it gained through the growth cycle, and has now stripped down to show a healthy profit on that turnover following the ‘cut’.

Just like a bodybuilder, following a cut, would look to maintain most of the lean muscle mass they gained during a bulking cycle, but have stripped away any excess fat and water during the cut – achieving an optimal physique for competition.

All businesses go through these cycles over time in order to ultimately achieve profitable growth – and it takes a careful balance and strategic management to perform successfully.

Focus too much on the growth phase of your business and you’ll have a high-revenue organisation that struggles to turn a profit (or even worse, makes a loss) or that turns a profit but struggles with cash.

Alternatively, focus too much on the profit aspect of your business (and be fearful of reinvesting for future growth), and you’ll see little to no growth in your business over time, and your profit will stagnate.

As a business owner/manager, you have to go through these cycles in order to progress, but you also have to be mindful of the downside associated with not achieving an optimal balance between the two.

What stage are you currently in with your business? Bulk or Cut? Please share your business growth story in the comments below.

15 Ways for Small Business Owners to Improve Productivity


It means different things to different business owners.

Increasing sales by 10% for one small business may mean massive progress, whereas for the next, it could mean failure in relation to their objectives.

But one thing is for certain, everyone wants to make progress in what they are doing.

Whether it be growing sales, building new revenue channels, or just getting day-to-day tasks completed.

And to make this progress, we must be productive. We must consistently work towards our goals in an efficient, effective manner.

But how do you achieve consistently strong productivity?

A restless night or distractions can often cause your productivity to nosedive, so how do you pick your productivity back up-to-speed so you can maintain progress towards your goals?

Here’s 15 ways to improve your productivity as a small business owner.

They are techniques I regularly employ as I juggle my responsibilities as a husband, father, CEO of Vitalife Group, my other businesses, property, this blog and my Udemy course.

The following techniques help me to maintain progress in all areas, and also to enjoy the journey – ensuring I have ample time to spend in my most important and enjoyable roles as husband and father.

Check and Respond to Emails Just Twice a Day (Maximum)

One of my biggest distractions is emails.

I’m normally working in a web browser on my laptop, with my email tabs for various accounts open constantly.

As soon as a new email drops in, it’s too tempting to come away from what I’m doing and check what it is!

Whilst I haven’t yet broken this habit of checking (I can’t ignore the anxiety of missing an urgent email – since almost all my communication with staff and other people is by this method), I have implemented the discipline to drop whatever it is into my ‘follow-ups’ folder (provided it isn’t absolutely urgent) and deal with my follow-ups for 1 hour at the end of each day.

This ensures that I can stay focused on what I’m working on, and am not constantly switching my attention to dealing with emails throughout the day.

When you allow your emails to take-over your day, you’ll reach the end of the day and not really feel like you have achieved anything – because you’ll have been flitting from micro-task to micro-task and not working towards your own, higher-level objectives for your business.

Not only do emails cause distraction and affect your immediate productivity, they also eventually lead you to lose motivation as you never get to feel the sense of achievement you gain when you complete a task or tick-off a to-do each day.

Let them wait for a reply. Your own objectives are more important.

Consistently Work Towards an Actionable To-Do List

To-Do lists allow you to direct your daily activities in-line with your higher-level business objectives.

They are effectively a bitesize, broken-down collection of micro-objectives that make up your longer-term business objectives.

Having a to-do list therefore not only guides you, daily, in the right direction, but it also helps to make longer-term objectives seem more achievable and maintains motivation as you work towards them since you can see real progress as you tick-off your to-dos.

I cover building actionable to-do lists from your higher-level objectives in my 4-week business course.

Ensuring to-dos are actionable, and breaking them down as much as possible, maximises productivity by allowing you to focus on each specific task involved in meeting an objective, rather than wandering towards a vague high-level goal.

Try Not to Multitask

As with emails, attempting to perform more than one task at once is not good for productivity or motivation.

Although, admittedly, multitasking is sometimes unavoidable (especially when you’re working from home and have a toddler placing toys on your lap asking you to play as you type – which is happening as I speak!), you should actively try to focus on just one task at a time.

This is called ‘monotasking’.

The best analogy I can give for this is when you attempt to download several large files at once.

If you just downloaded one file at a time, you would achieve 1, 2, or maybe 3 large downloads in a day. Whereas if you attempted to download 10 all at once, you wouldn’t achieve a single download in that day.

Your attention and productivity similarly has its own bandwidth – spread it too thin, and you won’t see any real achievements on a daily basis, which in-turn damages your motivation by never reaching a sense of achievement in that day.

But focus on just one task at a time, you might get several to-dos done in the day, which in-turn boosts motivation as you see tangible progress each day.

Don’t Procrastinate 

Jump in, and adapt.

If you sit thinking about a task for too long, you’ll never start it.

We’ve all got that to-do on our list that we’ve been putting-off because it’s either not enjoyable, too big, or you just don’t know where to begin with it.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can actually clear this from your list however, if you just make a start on it, and give it your full attention for the day.

I’m often the same with my blog posts. Each month my strategy is to build a list of blog titles for the coming month, and I then flesh my content out from these titles.

It’s easy to come up with the titles, making them engaging and relevant to my audience, but it’s harder to start typing the actual content. I have writer’s block, and don’t know where to begin. Partly out of wanting to achieve perfection and keep my content engaging, and partly from just not having my mind properly on the task and the topic.

The way I deal with this?

I just force myself to start typing.

More often than not, it will snowball from here. New ideas come to me as I type and focus my mind on each micro-topic in the post, and before I know it, I’m 2,000 words in and forcing myself to bring things to a close so it’s not too long-winded!

So just dive in, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t even really need to know what you’re doing – adapt and learn as you go, and it will all come together faster than you think.

Stay Hydrated

If you aren’t properly hydrated, you lose concentration.

Water is the single most important resource for the human body, and when it becomes depleted, your performance can fall – both in a mental and a physical capacity.

I often rely on warm drinks like tea (matcha green tea, in particular – which is great for concentration) and decaffeinated coffee for my hydration, getting through 8-10 cups per day.

But it’s also great if you mix in some drinks of water and juice too.

Just stay away from the sugary, fizzy stuff and too much caffeine – these will have you ‘crashing’ later in the day and caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can dehydrate you if you have too much.

Delegate and Automate

Rely on staff and software to conduct day-to-day, repetitive activities so that you can focus your time and energy on value-adding activities only.

If you find the right staff and put people in the right roles, you shouldn’t have to spend too much time supervising their work – just ensure they remain motivated and interested in their role, and pay mind to their own personal objectives and interests, and they’ll do what you need them to do.

If possible, automation is the preference to delegation – if you can automate a business process then, aside from the initial investment in software or machinery, you should see ongoing cost savings from labour-intensive, alternative solutions. Plus, automation removes the possibility of human error in the process.

Either way, try to make your day-to-day activities redundant through delegation and automation, and you’ll see your productivity and business progress soar, as you start to focus on more value-adding activities.

I cover more about automation and delegation in the 4th week of my online business course.

Swerve Meetings that Don’t Align with your Objectives

Re-assess the meetings you have in your calendar. Do you really need to attend these?

If they don’t directly relate to your business objectives, cancel them.

Meetings are just as distracting as emails, except even more time consuming and therefore costly.

For me to have a face-to-face meeting with somebody, it HAS to present the possibility of something major, aligned with my business objectives – or it won’t happen. I value my time too much to spend it in meetings that are purely for the benefit of the other party, or that are not valuable enough to my business.

Don’t have meetings for meeting’s sake.

Get 8 Hours of Sleep a Night

Sleep deprivation can affect your decision-making abilities, and has a negative impact on your productivity and concentration.

Ensure you go to bed early enough, or sleep in long enough, to get 8 hours of rest each night.

And if this is totally impossible, find time to take a nap the following day to make the hours up.

Sleep gives your body and mind time to recover and repair. If you don’t give your body enough time to do this, your productivity, and eventually your health, will suffer.

Stay Fit, Healthy, and Active

Feeling good about yourself and being 100% fit and healthy has a huge impact on your productivity.

If you don’t have good health, you will be constantly hindered by illness and ailments, and it is impossible to maintain 100% productivity in this situation.

Staying fit, healthy, and active takes investment – in both time and energy. You need to plan meals, prepare fresh food, and take time to exercise and workout.

Granted, this steals time that you could otherwise spend on your business, but would you rather spend 20% of your time dedicated to staying fit and well so that you can maintain 100% productivity, or devote 100% of your time to your business alone, and only achieve 20% productivity due to illness and poor performance?

With full productivity and focus, you can achieve much more in a shorter period of time – so don’t worry about dedicating time to your health and wellness, your business will benefit from this too.

Eat Well and Supplement your Diet

Eating well and supplementing your diet where necessary, are just as important as exercise in terms of maintaining your health.

Wherever possible, try to eat fresh fruit and veg, and maintain a healthy balanced diet.

If you’re aware of any nutrients that you are lacking, then supplement them – to ensure your body has everything it needs to achieve optimal performance.

I personally take CoEnzyme Q10 for heart health, Magnesium Glycinate, a Probiotic for digestive health, Potassium for effective muscle function, and Omega 3,6,9 for my good fats.

Being the owner of www.vitalifehealth.com and www.lovehealthhatewaste.com helps when it comes to understanding what supplements you need to fill the gaps in your diet, but with a little research you’ll be able to figure out a supplement regime for yourself too.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks, especially from your computer screen, helps maintain concentration and also allows you to recharge and come back with fresh ideas.

I often take this approach when blogging too. Leaving a post midway to do other things means that when I come back, I’ve usually had some other fresh ideas to include, and it allows me to read what I’ve already written with fresh eyes – so I can spot any changes that should be made.

Don’t be Afraid to Work Unconventional Hours

When you’re running your own small business, and especially if you also have a young family (like me), 9-5 hours go out of the window.

You may need to break-off in the middle of the day for a family event, for the gym or a run, or for a walk, to pick the kids up or drop them off at school, to take them swimming – whatever it may be.

In a typical day I get around 3 solid hours of work done early in a morning, then I’ve got other commitments that break my day up, so I typically only solidly work in 2 or 3 hour blocks, with gaps in-between for the gym, for family, for going for a walk, or anything else.

I probably average around 6-7 hours of work per day, but it’s all broken-down into chunks of 2-3 hours a time.

Provided you are 100% productive in the hours you’re working, you shouldn’t even need to work 9-5 each day to do what you have to do. And if you are working more than this, and the weekends, then you seriously have to address your productivity at work and your work-life balance.

Take a Holiday

Taking a break from work can give you completely fresh perspective and new ideas – and it also helps to recharge your battery, allowing you to come back with optimum productivity.

I’ve had my best business ideas whilst I’ve been on holiday, and I’ve come back with more motivation than when I went, because I have new, exciting things to experiment with.

Make Sure You’re Doing what you Love to do

Ultimately, make sure you’re still doing what you love.

I’m a huge supporter of following your dreams and only doing something that you have a true passion for. You spend the majority of your life working, so you might aswell spend it doing something you love, right?

The reason your productivity may be falling is because you are no longer enjoying what you are doing.

If this is the case, take a short break away from what you are doing and re-assess what you want to be doing.

If you can’t realign yourself within your current business to focus on your passion and the reason you first started your business, then don’t be afraid to admit that what you are doing is no longer enjoyable, and move-on.

Don’t become trapped doing something you hate – you’ll become depressed.

Break free. It may be painful in the short-term, both mentally and financially, but provided you know what your true passion is, and what you want to spend your time doing, then it will be much more rewarding in the long-term to focus on what you love to do.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Bigger Picture

Your business isn’t everything. Life has a wider scope than your business.

Make sure you dedicate enough time to family, friends, adventure, travelling, and leisure pursuits – these moments not only allow you to recharge, they also give fresh perspective and allow you to enjoy life as a whole – rather than constantly obsessing over your business.


Often, the things we think distract us from productivity are the very things that help to boost and maintain it.

Take frequent breaks from work, dedicate time to leisure and fitness activities, get plenty of rest, and don’t work silly hours.

Sure, you could work 6am-9pm 7 days a week on your business, and you might see positive results for a week or so. But this isn’t sustainable. You’ll burn-out faster than you think.

Don’t feel guilty for doing the things you love.

Having your own business brings with it freedom that those working a 9-5 do not share, but often it is the fear of guilt that ties small business owners into relinquishing this freedom, and they end-up working more hours than a regular employee, often for less reward.

It’s the guilt of not trying your best, not giving your business your all, and of what it could achieve if you dedicated 100% of your time and effort to your business alone.

Well, I’m here to tell you that its not quite as simple and linear as it seems.

Human emotion and mechanics are involved – and wherever these play a role, things are never completely straightforward.

Giving 100% of your time and effort to your business alone, does not generate as much growth or progress as it would if you gave 50-70% of your waking time to your business, and the rest to other things you love to do.

When you nourish your mind and body with the things it needs to maintain productivity, your business will also be rewarded in-turn.

Focus on yourself, feed your passions, and give your body what it needs – and the rest will take care of itself.

If you have any other tips for boosting productivity, please share them in the comments below.

12 Things that Keep Small Business Owners Awake at Night (and Why they Shouldn’t)

Sleep deprivation shouldn’t be a badge of honour for busy, stressed entrepreneurs.

It leads to reduced productivity, higher stress levels, and poor decisions.

So if you find yourself losing sleep over your small business, it’s a dangerous place to be, where a visious cycle can quickly and easily follow.

I always try to get at least 7 hours a night, preferably 8, sometimes accompanied by a short nap in the day too.

If I have less than this, I can’t function as effectively or as efficiently as I normally do. I’d rather spend an extra couple of hours in bed in the morning if I haven’t slept well, so I can operate at full pace when I get to my desk, than get up early regardless and burnout by 2pm.

Huge companies like Google are taking notice of the impact that sleep deprivation can have on productivity and combat this by offering employees ‘sleep pods’ in the workplace where they can take a nap to recharge.

But when stress is causing you to lose sleep, and you don’t have the opportunity to catch-up, it can be difficult.

In this post I assess the top 12 things that keep entrepreneurs and small business owners awake at night, and how you can change your perspective on these, and implement some tools and techniques, to stop them impacting your sleep.


One of the biggest challenges most small businesses face is cashflow management.

How do you ensure you have enough cash flowing into the business to meet wages, rent, and supplier payments?

With the dynamics and complexities of a fast-growing entrepreneurial business, it becomes less linear and straightforward to keep on-top of cashflow.

Sales are often hard to predict, and budgets need to be flexible to accommodate respective upturns and downturns from sales projections, and to capitalise on new growth opportunities.

Even the most adaptable forecasts (learn how to create adaptable forecasts for your business in my online business course) can be tested with almost daily changes from projections.

And this is why cashflow can often keep the small business owner up at night.

The best way that I’ve learned to combat fears over cashflow is:

1. Build and maintain flexible, simple cashflow projections (I show people how to build these in my 4-week business course) so that you can predict future cashflows and arrange finance in advance accordingly if necessary

2. Hold on to cash for as long as you can. Get paid as soon as possible from your customers and arrange long payment terms with suppliers

3. Don’t be afraid to take-on affordable finance to provide cashflow in times of shortfall. Provided you are profitable and can cover the cost of borrowing, then it’s a better option than running out of cash!


You can struggle with cash but still be profitable – if you’re continually reinvesting in stock or capital equipment.

But if you’re struggling with cash and you’re unprofitable, then it can be a very difficult time.

Banks rarely lend to unprofitable businesses, and raising equity finance is equally difficult unless you have an exceptional management team and/or concept.

So unless you have more cash to pump in until it becomes profitable, then you’re going to be in trouble.

Sit down and figure out your top 4 overheads, then look at how these can be reduced. Cost cutting in all areas can have positive impact, but if you need to turn finances around quickly you need to focus on the big expenses for big impact.

Then look at how you can increase your gross margin, can you push suppliers for further discounts? Sell more profitable products or services?

When your business is as lean as possible, and you are maximising your gross margins, then you need to look at ways you can increase sales and scale with the same foundation of overheads so you can dilute these further and start to see a healthy net profit.

Look for new promotional channels and particularly focus on maximising customer order value with up-selling and cross-selling (I cover how to do this in my 4 week business course) – selling more to existing customers is often a more profitable strategy than seeking brand new customers.


Client deadlines, account filing deadlines, and regulatory deadlines – they all create pressure and can contribute to stress.

Try using a calendar, to-do lists, and collaborative working tools like Basecamp to plan ahead and ensure all deadlines are met, and where they cannot be met, appropriate communication is made before the deadline arrives.

In my 4 week business course I also cover how to produce and use to-do lists to help prioritise and organise tasks.


Fear of key employees leaving, sickness, staff shortages, conflict – there are plenty of ways that your employees can cause you stress and therefore sleepless nights.

It’s important, with employees, that you appreciate they aren’t just machines, they have their own needs, objectives, and dreams – and these won’t always necessarily marry with the objectives of your business.

You have to ensure your employees are in positions where they remain motivated and engaged, and that you are flexible when it comes to their own needs – whether it be flexible working hours, training and development, or even just leaving work early one afternoon for a family event. Help them to meet their objectives and they’ll help your business meet its objectives also.

Beyond showing flexibility, a desire to help them achieve their own objectives, and ensuring they are in the right role within the business, you can’t control much else.

Humans, by their nature, are unpredictable. They are driven by emotion and feeling, and there are many variables (both inside and outside of the workplace) that can affect these.

Don’t stress over things you cannot control – provide employees a flexible, fertile environment for them to flourish, and the rest is out of your control. Relax.


Research has shown sales growth to be one of the biggest causes of stress for small business owners.

We’re all trying to grow our sales – no business owner ever wants them to go the other way.

But stressing over growing your sales really isn’t necessary.

Growing a business isn’t an exact science, and it takes plenty of time and trial/error to achieve millions of pounds in sales.

Provided you are collecting data and analytics on every promotional channel you are using, and you are regularly analysing these statistics to tweak your promotional strategy to focus on the activities with the best response and highest return on investment, then worrying beyond this is completely irrational.

You should only be worried about sales growth if you are flying blind and are not collecting, processing, and applying data from each promotional avenue that you employ. Because then you’ll never truly know what is working and what isn’t, so you’ll never feel in control of your sales growth.

Install Google Analytics, use promotional codes uniquely assigned to each promotion you run, and continually analyse your results – and you should never feel worried about growing sales. Perhaps you’ll feel frustrated at times as you go through the trial and error stages of your promotional activity, but never worried.

Time Management

For small business owners, time is quite literally money. If you don’t manage your own, and employee’s, time effectively then it can prove costly.

And not always costly in the sense of an immediate financial cost, but also the opportunity cost of focusing your time on more valuable and rewarding activities.

This is something I personally had an issue with until most recently. I’d spend most of my days sat monitoring and dealing with emails, and not on value-adding activities or my own to-do lists.

This caused a distraction where I was ultimately prioritising the needs of the people emailing me, and not my own business needs.

Now, I only deal with emails in short bursts either once or twice per day. And if I receive an email that doesn’t align with my own business objectives or relating to the ongoing needs of my business, it gets ignored entirely.

It seems ignorant and somewhat selfish, but you have to prioritise your time according to your own business needs, or you’ll be constantly distracted and lose your direction.

Customer Satisfaction

It’s always important to ensure customer satisfaction – it’s this that will ultimately drive your business growth through referrals and repeat custom.

If you are having issues with your product or service, it’s important to deal with them quickly and aggressively so they do not negatively impact on your customer experience.

Then ensure you have the right customer service in-place to deal with any complaints. A complaint in itself doesn’t have to be a bad thing. View it as an opportunity to show-off your customer care and service.

Research has shown that customer loyalty is even stronger amongst customers that have experienced issues but had them dealt with by great customer service, than amongst customers that never experienced any negative issues with their product or service in the first instance.

So don’t stress about customer complaints, just ensure the underlying issue is dealt with going forwards, and that any complaints are dealt with swiftly and effectively.


Like with sales growth, overall company growth is often a worry for small business owners, especially those with other investors and shareholders to please.

How you adress this concern depends on the measurement of growth you are concerned about – it could be revenue growth, asset growth, customer growth, profit growth, or any other measure.

If it’s revenue growth that you have a concern about, you need to analyse your promotional channels and their performance, just as you would with sales growth issues. If it’s asset growth, you need to analyse your reinvestment strategy and the depreciation rates for your business assets, if it’s customer growth you need to look at promotional channels and also your customer retention and repeat order encouragement to ensure these are optimised, if it’s profit growth, you need to analyse both sales/promotional performance and your expenses in comparison to budgeted figures.

Again, though, analysis and computation/implementation of data will allow you to combat fear with rational results analysis and strategy revisals in order to maintain course towards your company growth projections.

And if you don’t meet projections even after constant and thorough analysis/application of data, then you’ve given it your best effort – not everything goes to plan. So, revise your growth projections so they remain realistic.


A concern for some business owners can be about the technology they use and whether it is outdated.

Technology investments, particularly in manufacturing operations and technologically-advanced businesses, can be substantial – so when the time comes to update, you need to either have good cash reserves or be in a position to take on funding.

Ignoring or putting-off technology investment can lead to falling behind the competition and operational inefficiencies that can hinder your growth and financial performance – so don’t neglect it.

Government Regulations

A particular concern for those operating in highly regulated industries or politically unstable Countries, is regulatory changes enforced by government.

Not only can meeting new regulations be costly, but they can also put you completely out of business, depending on their severity.

But the answer to preventing worry around this business risk is simple, just don’t worry – unless you are a large organisation with hefty political power that can lobby government to actively combat restrictive and unnecessary regulations, then you cannot control it.

Therefore worry is completely pointless and leads to no useful outcome.

Just stay aware of proposed regulatory changes and position your business well to adapt to them if they are enforced. That’s all you can do in this circumstance.


I get particularly frustrated when I read about economic concerns or predictions. Especially when they are negative (which they invariably are).

Economies are built on confidence. Give people confidence and they’ll invest, they’ll take risks, and they will create further employment.

But scare people with gloomy predictions and depressing forecasts, and their confidence will be knocked, so they will hold back on investment and taking risks.

Sometimes I feel the media and speculation are the foundations of a downturn, and not the downturn in itself (they at least accelerate and amplify the negative effects of a dowturn).

With the internet and increasingly free International trade, we all operate in a Global economy. Do you know how many variables there are that can affect the performance of a Global marketplace?

Too many to mention!

As humans we constantly want to give reason to fluctuations in economic performance, so we feel we can control it a little better. But the truth is, the economy is so big, and has so many variables, that we cannot control it – and there are bound to be periods of ups and downs. And whether these ups and downs are given real reasoning or not, we cannot control them.

So as a small business owner, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to control it either – so my advice is, don’t pay any mind to the things you cannot control. It’s a waste of time and energy, that would be better spent on the things we can control.

Recession or not, you’ll keep pushing your business and trying to grow – don’t let the speculation on economic performance or outlook change anything about that. It’s precisely this type of reaction that creates a downturn.


Although not something I’ve heard mentioned elsewhere, if I personally wasn’t running an ethical business or one that was doing something positive for other people, I would question the whole purpose of my business.

In particular, if your business is having a negative impact on people or the environment like alcohol or oil, then this would keep me up at night.

For me, business has to have more purpose than just making money, and it has to deliver positive impact to others – otherwise, I don’t see the point in doing it.

Do good in your business, and you won’t have to worry about this one keeping you up at night!

And that rounds up my 12 things that keep small business owners awake at night, and why they shouldn’t!

If you know of any more, or would like to add to my suggestions on how to overcome the worry that that above 12 things can create, then please share in the comments below.

Why Running Your Own Business Could Be Killing You

Living with risk can carry a price.

Not just a financial one, but one that exacts itself on your body and mind.

Driving back from the gym one evening I experienced what I now know is a panic attack – though at the time I thought I was genuinely about to die.

Constant irrepressible thoughts of worry, increased heart rate, cold sweats, palpitations, and an overall fear of impending doom. It wasn’t the greatest experience in the World.

I had extensive tests on my heart – from ECGs to scans on my heart valves to ensure they were operating as they should. All clear.

I suspected it was a panic attack shortly after the episode, but I wanted to 100% rule out any potential of it being a physical issue.

The weird thing was, I didn’t actively feel stressed or worried that often. Yes, I have stress, though I felt like I managed it effectively – but this episode taught me otherwise.

I wanted to write this post so that I could help others that have experienced this terrible feeling – it really is quite horrifying when you’re in the moment, but if you can pinpoint its cause, you can beat it using some simple techniques that I now regularly employ.

Pinpoint the Cause of your Fear or Stress

For me, this was the hardest part – I wasn’t consciously worried or fearful of any one thing, at least not constantly anyway.

Of course, I had bursts of fear or worry when I thought about a particular concern in my business – like taking on debt to further fuel growth or managing cashflow, but I actively faced these issues aggressively and planned-out how and when the debt will be repaid and how cashflow would fare by creating financial forecasts.

This defeated fear and worry with rational perspective and planning – so I could put the emotions to rest.

After much thought, I managed to pinpoint what was causing my subconscious mind to worry – I realised that, as my company had grown, my daily thoughts and perspective had changed.

No longer was I focused on longer-term, exciting objectives that I’d set for the business, and on how we could develop and grow the business further, I had become sucked into day-to-day worry about cashflow, and my focus had switched to managing and attempting to control potential negative situations, rather than dealing with and compartmentalizing these so I could continue to focus on growth and the positive prospects for the business.

This might seem like I’m suggesting its a good idea to ignore issues in your business – it most definitely is not. But issues should be dealt with swiftly and aggressively, and should not consume your day-to-day thoughts – otherwise your longer-term vision becomes clouded and you don’t achieve the growth that you could if you focused daily on the positive prospects and growth projects.

What had happened was, I was dealing with the issues swiftly, but I had become trapped into dealing with even the most minute issues – which meant my entire day was consumed by problems (which weren’t actually that important, my OCD just amplified them as I attempted to achieve perfection with everything I handled).

I was also getting consumed by emails – I hated having anything in my ‘follow-ups’ folder, so I aimed to have this cleared each day where possible. Which meant I ended-up priorisiting other people’s priorities, and not my own.

Now, I let my follow-ups accumulate and only deal with them when I have a moment away from dealing with my own objectives and to-do lists, not the other way round.

I also ignore a lot more emails – which may sound a little ignorant, and I still feel bad for doing it – but I have to do it for my sanity. If the email doesn’t fit with my own priorities in the business, and isn’t important for the ongoing operation of the business, then it doesn’t go in my follow-ups.

Don’t Shy Away from Fearful Situations

It’s tempting, when you’ve experienced a panic attack or similar feeling of intense worry or fear to shy away from the activity or situation that caused its onset.

Don’t give in to this feeling.

If you do, you’ll be reinforcing the fear you first experienced, and when you do have to face that particular activity or situation again in future, then your fear will be amplified – because you’ll not only have the original fear, but you’ll have the fear of the onset of worry and feeling of intense fear – it’s a very vicious cycle.

You need to face it head-on and show your own mind that you aren’t afraid to go through the situation again. After all, that’s all you’re battling – your own mind.

So, whilst I was still trying to figure out the cause of my fear in the days that followed my original attack, I would feel the same sensation creeping up on me when I was either at the gym or on the way home – because my mind now associated this feeling with this activity, and started to develop a pattern.

But I still went to the gym the day  after the initial experience, then the day after that, and the day after that. I managed to keep a further full-blown attack at bay, but I could still feel it in the background waiting to take hold.

Breathing exercises and stretching allowed me to refocus and prevent it happening again – and I took this approach until I had figured out the root cause of the issue, and addressed this head-on too.

Now my fear and worry is gone, I can see it clearly, even in my subconscious mind, like I always have in my conscious mind – I see the fear for what it is, an irrational distraction, and it can no longer affect my day-to-day life.

With my day-to-day focus and vision back on the growth of my businesses, and on its positive prospects (with higher-level negative issues being dealt with aggressively, and lower-level negative issues delegated), my subconscious mind is now much clearer.


Ultimately, fear is a 90% irrational and 10% pointless emotion.

Meaning, most of the time, fear is unjustified and based on irrational thinking, and where fear IS justified, there is still no point to it – what you are fearful of, you will have to face with the emotion of fear present or not. So it doesn’t help with your situation.

Whilst it’s impossible, unless you are a robot, to completely remove an emotion like fear from your mind, it is possible to control it, and to counter any situation where fear is present with the argument that what you are experiencing is either irrational or totally pointless.

Ultimately, life is a journey where we all end up in the same situation – dead.

Depressing way of thinking, maybe. But this is what I use to anchor my mind when fear tries to take hold.

Whatever situation you face, whether it be losing your home, your savings, or anything else, it’s just an experience. It won’t kill you.

You are therefore still able to continue your life journey. And that’s all life is, a journey – there isn’t an end goal like complete financial security or this point of euphoria where you feel you have achieved everything you want to achieve and your life is complete. If you’re seeking this feeling, you’ll end up depressed – because it never arrives.

Another thing this way of thinking does is make you more comfortable with life’s only guarantee, that your journey will one day come to an end, and you’ll die. That’s guaranteed.

This makes the emotion of fear and worry even more pointless – it hinders your life journey and experience, but with the experience of fear or not, you’ll reach the same ending – so why ruin your journey? You’re heading in the same direction regardless.

So, thank you panic attacks, for making me an even more fearless, strong-minded entrepreneur, and for making me appreciate life’s journey even more.

I hope this post helps give some clarity to your emotions too, and please do share your own story in the comments below – I’d love to hear about it.