Starting a business is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of courage to tackle the challenges and risks that come with it, especially when there’s no guarantee of success. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have self-belief, commitment, and mental fortitude.
But let’s be real, being an entrepreneur is rewarding – but it can also be tough in so many ways. From raising capital to managing staff to dealing with inconsistent income, there are always challenges to overcome. South Africa entrepreneurs face additional obstacles, as well, from load shedding and increasing interest rates, to high fuel prices. It’s a lot for any business owner to handle and often takes a toll on mental health.
According to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), mental disorders result in massive amounts of lost productivity each year. It is estimated that employee absenteeism as the result of depression costs the South African economy approximately R19 billion annually. As a business owner, it's important to recognise the impact mental health can have on not just yourself, but also your employees and your bottom line.
In fact, a study by UC Berkeley has found that up to 72% of entrepreneurs have some kind of mental health issue. For many business owners, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of building a successful business and forgetting to take care of themselves mentally.
However, if you are a business owner, your company, employees, customers and loved ones need you to be the best version of yourself you can be, and that requires you to prioritize your well-being. After all, a healthy mind is the foundation of a successful business.
One of the best ways to improve mental health and reduce stress and depression is through the power of positive thoughts. Train your brain to become more positive using five simple strategies (and share them with your employees too):
Take note of what thoughts run through your mind. You may realize that you have the same negative thoughts every day. Once you recognize these, try to put a positive spin on them and counteract them with more positive thinking.
Before you go to sleep, reflect on your day and think about three specific good things that happened. Whether it was ticking off a few things on your to-do list, getting a compliment from a friend or customer, or enjoying some time with your kids, being grateful for the little things makes you a more positive person. Yes, the business landscape in South Africa is challenging, but if you look for reasons to celebrate, you will find them.
Since emotions are contagious, it makes sense that you would want to surround yourself with positive people who inspire, empower and encourage you. Surround yourself with people who lift you higher and not those who bring you down.
We hear time and again that taking care of ourselves physically and mentally can influence our happiness. Eating well boosts your spirits simply because you’ve done something good for yourself, while exercising for just 20 minutes a day releases endorphins that improve your mood. Your business may need a lot of your time – but it also needs you to be healthy, well rested and happy, so make room for ‘you’ time.
This may be easier said than done, but one of the best ways you can become more positive is by doing things you absolutely love. It may be reading a book, cooking, baking, woodwork, playing a sport or mountain-biking; you’ve got to take the time to do something that brings you genuine happiness.
Pulling it all together
It’s important to acknowledge that becoming a positive thinker doesn’t happen overnight but making a little progress every day will put you on the path to becoming a lifelong positive thinker and a better entrepreneur.