How do you look after yourself in your business in hard times?

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Slangkop, Kommetjie. (Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
Slangkop, Kommetjie. (Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

In Australia a team of emotional resilience experts and a family business professional travelled more than 1,300 km across outback Queensland to give practical advice and inspirational to regional communities hard-hit by drought. The resilience experts provided practical advice on how to best manage personal and business change, challenges and opportunities.

One of the experts said that people can’t look after their businesses, family or property without looking after themselves. Their aim was to change the conversations around the dinner table on the need to focus on hope, strategy and action rather than despair and difficulties. The roadshow series reinforced the importance of emotional well-being and resilience during difficult times.

It’s amazing that such sincere concern was expressed for the agricultural community hit by a hard times in Australia. At home farmers, who are often small-scale agribusinesses, essentially small businesses, are often not so lucky. They often have to contend with labour unrest, threat of confiscation, theft and damage to property, farm murders and generally get a slap in the face for trying to get on with the business of feeding the nation. It’s a sad reality. Support is withdrawn on farming subsidies which makes them look like the bad guys. No one comes along to give them a pat on the back, shows them how to take care of themselves during difficult times – they are left alone to look after themselves.

But the amazing thing is that they don’t complain. They bandy together in their little groups and support each other, consoling themselves that in the long term things may improve. They draw strength from their own inner resources and a sense of community to tide themselves through highly charged circumstances.

It’s not just farmers who are having a hard time. Others small business owners experienced a tough year. I saw some statistics on the high closure rate for small businesses which showed that one in four new firms folded before they were two years old. There are different business “death” rates for different areas but this figure is just an indication of how tough it is out there.

While the festive season perhaps brought in revenue for cash-strapped businesses, in this New Year small businesses face an ongoing cycle of debt and cash flow issues. An increase in unpaid invoices in the first part of the new year makes it even harder for small businesses to survive and many take steps to close.

How do you manage your business and personal affairs during challenging times? Have you learnt how to take breaks, look after yourself and take time out to get perspective – to look at what you’ve done with new, fresh eyes?

There is not any one way that works for all small business owners. Each business owner has their own way of coping with disaster as we all do in our personal lives. Yet there is one truth and that is that it is hard to perform with continual resistance in your personal and business life.

Resistance living is bad for you and your health.

The first step is acknowledging that you need to make changes and this awareness alone can help remove a lot of the pressure. With perspective, it is easier to turn your thoughts to new ideas, strategy and action.

It’s important to focus on what you can control and to plan for the future. So is maintaining a long-term perspective and remaining focused in the now yet preparing for the future.

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