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What 5 Things Keep Business Owners Awake at Night?

What 5 Things Keep Business Owners Awake at Night?

And, What You Can Do to Sleep Better

At the Beginning

When you make the decision to become a business owner, many people will offer their thoughts, stories and/or advice.  Some of that turns out to be helpful and some of it, not so much.

It can be appealing, the idea that there is a way to shorten the learning curve, in any growth opportunity.  Unfortunately, humans are predisposed to want to learn things the hard way or first hand – at least the business owners I have known!

Opportunity CookieWhat people often don’t talk about is how being a business owner can lead to a lot of sleepless nights.  And, by not talking about that, the opportunity to uncover the secrets of getting a good night’s sleep is lost.  It is time to peel back the covers and then, figure out how to put them back on, for the entire night!

We are All the Same

While individual businesses may differ in their product, services or daily operations, much of what goes into being in business never changes.  For some business owners, they prefer the idea that what they do is unique and therefore, everything related to their business is unique.  But, for the rest of us, we are challenged by not having enough time, work/life balance, cash flow, employees, customers/clients, sales, and more.  Here we tackle some big ones and ways to get control of them, so you can sleep.

To make it easier to digest, we have five categories and everything that creates a challenge for you as a business owner fits into these categories.  The categories are time management, people, money, operations and balance.  Some things are in multiple categories, and examples are given to help get the most benefit from the information.


Time Management

There is a finite number of hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month, etc.  This is not new information.  And, there is a shift that happens when you go from employee to business owner, as it relates to time.  Even if you are the most dedicated employee, how you look at time when you are in business changes.

strategy puzzle piecesWhen you have a deadline at work, you may be very conscientious and work well above and beyond the 40-hour workweek to meet the deadline.  You make forgo personal obligations or your own life so that you don’t let down the people counting on you to make something happen.  I was that employee and sacrificed a lot for various projects I worked on, in my job.  I truly felt a sense of ownership of most of the projects within my purview.  But, at the end of the day, no matter what I did two things for an employee than for an owner.

The first thing that was different was that I was not always in a position to impact results or change how things happened.  The only person I could control was me.  And the only things I could control were the things I did.  At any point, someone at a higher or even lower level could change the course of events with their mindset or actions.

The second thing that was different was that as long as I had a job, I got a paycheck.

Being Responsible

I have asked many business owners what made them start their own business and universally, the answer is to have more control.  It may come out, as being responsible, wanting to have more of an impact on their clients, making more money, having a flexible schedule, etc.  Ultimately, all of these answers are about an individual who wants to have control in their life via their work.

And, then they discover that control is an illusion.  When you are in business, you still really only have control of yourself and your actions.  When you look at the idea of having enough time, it is once again about control.  But, it is also about priorities and what is different when you are a business owner is you set your own priorities.  And, then you are responsible for the results.

If you get to the end of the day and wonder where all of the hours went and why you have so much left to do, it would appear that you haven’t been clear about your priorities.  I know, I know….things came up that you couldn’t control and it threw your day off kilter.  But, what is the difference between those people who make things happen in their day and those that don’t?  Can it really be that the people who are more productive have fewer interruptions or crises?

High Achievers

If you talk to people who get more done in a day than you can imagine, they share some common ways of making their days more productive.  Often what keeps us awake at night is our list of things on our plate.

Learning to say, “no,” can have a huge impact on your sleep!  But, if you are not quite ready for that ugly, 2-letter word, the following list is how successful, high-achievers make things happen.

  • They wake up earlier in the morning
  • They exercise
  • They make a list
  • They set their priorities for the day and commit to getting these things done
  • They block their time
  • They control their time
  • They pay attention to their time
  • They start their day knowing what has to get done and they do those things first
  • They make a list the night before of both their new to-dos and leftover to-dos.

When you look at the list above, which of these are things that you are doing today?  If you are doing any of them, that is great news.  If you aren’t, there is no better time than today to change something.  If you have never done these things, it can feel overwhelming to change everything all at once and frankly, that is not a recipe for success!

Which one thing could you start doing today and make a habit?  I find the list to be the easiest thing to start doing, since it is easy to do.

The Plangetthingsdone

Less than 50% of business owners have a written plan when they start their business.  That in and of itself doesn’t mean that you can’t have one, even if you were in the 50+% that didn’t write one when you started.  Here is the great news, more than half of those that wrote a plan never looked at it after they started their business.

Not having a plan can make everyday less productive.  You wake up in the morning and what do you do?  How do you stay on track when you are not quite sure what track to stay on and where it will lead.  If you want to take your business and make it something that reflects well on you and your effort, you must start with a plan.  Written goals have a far higher rate of success.

Where do you start?  Start with one year from today; what would you like to see happen?  What needs to happen to realize that dream?  And, the plan starts to unfold going backwards from what needs to happen before the goals can be reached.

Think about you and your habits…what habits have to change?  What habits suit your business?  What are the obstacles and what is your plan to overcome them?  What resources will you need to improve your results?  How will you structure your time to have enough room for the areas you have to change or improve?  Start with an outline based on goals and then, fill in the gaps.  Don’t expect to do this in one sitting.  And, identify ways to measure your progress each week.

Writing this plan will not change your business but it is a great place to start things in motion and it can be very fun to imagine accomplishing each one of your goals.

The People

There are people in your life that make it easier for you to sleep at night and then, there are those that keep you awake.  Customers, employees, family members, significant others, etc., they all can impact your way of looking at things.  They can impact your emotions.  And, some of them it seems you cannot escape.  So, how do you create an environment where you can stay safe from other people’s stuff?

It does not always seem like you have options, but in reality you do.  It can even be part of your plan.  You look at the people in your life that bring you joy, or humor or positivity or like you can conquer the world.  Find ways to spend more time with these people.  That energy will sustain you through some tough things and being able to conjure up the moments you felt good is a very powerful tool.

When you look at the people in your life that cause you unhappiness or pain or anger, can you remove them from your life?  Sometimes it is easier than others to do this.  Each of us has to decide what is right for our lives.  Maybe, if you can’t remove them, you can look at how things happen in those relationships and take anything that you can predict and create a new pattern.  For example, you have someone who always talks a lot, so when you start a conversation with them, you know it will go on far longer than you have time to talk.  But, you need to talk to them, so rehearse a different way of engaging in conversation so it cannot go on forever or identify a way out of the conversation before it starts, so you can set a limit for yourself.

There are many people in our lives who affect our state of mind and just being aware that is happening is a first step to uncovering ways to control it.  So, just start with going inside and paying attention to the effect people have on you throughout the day.  When you start to notice things you like and don’t like, write them down.  Slowly but surely, you will find ways to introduce some of these ideas and almost, unnoticeably your days will change and include more happy moments and less unhappy ones.

The PeaceSunrise

Finding peace is not always easy.  Over time, I have learned a few things that help to get a good night sleep, but the list does not always work.  Here are some of the things, I have shared with clients and done myself that usually help:

  • Paper and pen next to the bed and writing all your thoughts down before sleep
  • Putting your day to rest – spending 5 minutes every night reviewing the day and making peace with anything that you aren’t happy about and enjoying the parts of the day that went well, then letting it go.
  • Just writing your thoughts down, not a list, so much as what is going on in your head that feels unresolved
  • Visualization
  • Meditation
  • Listening to meditative music or hypnosis before bed

Give some of these a try.  And, share what has helped you sleep better at night.  We each have to navigate our way through this, but my hope is this article gives you some things to improve your sleeping habits!

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