Running a business is no easy feat, and when you add the burden of a traumatic event into the mix, it can feel as though a weight has crushed your soul and there is no coming back from the overwhelm. However, healing from trauma while managing a business is not only possible but can also be a transformative journey personally and professionally.
As a small business owner I faced multiple traumatic events over a short amount of time. During one of the greatest mental health struggles of my life, I experienced tremendous growth as a leader. I also celebrated some of my biggest wins and successes up to this point in business. During a time I wanted to give up on business, I chose to persevere like never before. I became more focused and determined to fight for my mental health, my team, my clients and the success of my business.
After reflecting on my own healing journey, I hope to spread hope and awareness to other small business owners. There are steps and strategies I used to overcome my trauma response while running a small business. I do not know what your fight looks like. There is no comparison anyway. Although, I do know it is possible to overcome your trauma and come out transformed and ready to level up.
Overcoming trauma while running a business. Listen to the episode here!
Understanding Trauma and the Impact it has on Your Small Business
Before diving into the steps and strategies I used during my mental health crisis, it’s critical to understand what trauma is and how it can affect your life and business. Trauma can result from various experiences such as accidents, abuse, loss, or even stress. It can manifest physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. The physical, mental and emotional symptoms of a trauma response will impact your decision-making, relationships, and overall well-being.
The first step in addressing trauma is recognizing the signs and symptoms and acknowledging its presence. Some common signs of trauma include anxiety, depression, flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and difficulty concentrating. In the context of running a business, these symptoms will negatively affect your productivity, creativity, and leadership abilities.
Seek the Professional Help of a Counselor or Therapist
Healing from trauma requires professional guidance. Naturally I am strong mentally speaking and have always overcome hard times on my own. I was not against mental health treatment, nor was I too prideful to seek help. I was literally wearing too many hats and the thought of even one more appointment on my calendar took my overwhelm to impossible. Instead I deceived myself and believed that time would heal and everything would eventually be ok. Until it wasn’t. Mental health therapy is now a regular appointment on my weekly schedule and will remain a part of my overall business growth strategy.
My biggest regret though this whole healing journey is not getting a therapist sooner. Consider working with a therapist, counselor, or coach who specializes in trauma. They can help you explore the root causes of your trauma, develop coping strategies, and provide a safe space for processing your emotions. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Delegate, Outsource and Hire Help
It’s impossible to pour from an empty cup. After hitting a breaking point I started thinking about giving up my business. I was so overwhelmed and began to feel as though I could no longer take care of my clients. At the time, I thought it may be easier to get a simple job that didn’t take much more effort than putting a smile on my face and handing back the correct amount of change.
One thing I have learned is to hold off on making big decisions when I am hurt, lonely, angry or tired. I’m so thankful I didn’t quit. Instead, I decided to take things one day at a time. I gave myself permission to hold off on taking new clients and pursuing leads for 30 days. This allowed me time to take care of my current client base and focus on healing and recovery.
During that 30 days off from pursuing growth, I consulted with my therapist on my options. Instead of quitting at business I decided to overcome obstacles despite the challenges and setbacks in front of me. I was gently reminded that running a business doesn’t mean I have to do everything myself. Here are a few ways to lighten your load as a small business owner.
- Delegate tasks to capable team members.
- Outsource specialized services like accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, graphic design or copywriting.
- Hire a new assistant or team member that can take on up to 80% of your daily tasks and assignments.
This not only lightens your workload but also fosters collaboration and trust within your business.
Keep a Consistent Work Routine
Prioritize consistency in your daily life and work routine. I’ll never forget showing up to work on a Monday after nearly dying the Thursday before. Although I sat in a frozen gaze at my desk that day, I did take note that I showed up. At the time, I did not realize that pursuing consistency in my work routine was going to be critical in the healing process. There were many days that I was not able to focus or engage with critical tasks and assignments, but showing up each day was building a level of trust in the healing process.
“Mindset matters most because it influences your thoughts, beliefs, and attitude; determining the actions you will take and decisions you will make.” – Deanna Cotten, Certified Business Made Simple Coach.
Consistency in my work day provided a sense of normalcy and stability. Keeping a consistent morning and work routine despite the setbacks and challenges allowed me to experience healing results much quicker than expected. I was able to start making strategic decisions for my business that ultimately lead to improved productivity, efficiency and momentum.
Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Every Win
Remember, this is only a season. If you have experienced a traumatic event, give yourself permission to heal by prioritizing your mental health and well-being over rapid business growth. It’s ok to re-evaluate your business goals and adjust them to accommodate your healing plan. Free yourself with projects, tasks and assignments that are not realistic. When you make room to heal, you will reduce overwhelm and maintain a healthier work-life balance. Make peace with putting some things on for a short time knowing that when you make your comeback all of these things will be accomplished in a next level state of mind.
Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Trauma recovery is a journey, and progress is gradual, not overnight. By acknowledging and celebrating your victories, you build resilience.
Position Yourself to Win
Overcoming trauma as a small business owner is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. Remember that healing is a personal journey, and it’s okay to seek help and take your time. By implementing the strategies I have outlined you will create a healthier work-life balance, and ultimately build a successful business while healing from trauma.
*Disclosure – I am not a licensed therapist and cannot diagnose or inform you in regards to your medical conditions. The information in this article is not meant to replace the treatment or advice of your therapist or other medical professionals. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please seek professional help right away.
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