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It is common for people working in business to be concerned with or stressed about their business finances at some point.

Unpredictable income, cash flow and delayed payments are common experiences for people working in small business and these can put you at increased risk of poor mental and physical health and family conflict. It is also often compounded by other aspects of running your own business, such as high work demands and longer hours.

For some, financial stress can also be a barrier to seeking help. You may feel like you can’t afford treatment, or that you are unable to take the time off work to get the help you need.

If you are feeling like you’re struggling to stay on top of things financially, there are ways you can protect yourself from the strain mentally as well as in your pocket.

Beating financial stress: It’s not just about money

Financial stress is a form of stress that can impact on you and your health. By focusing on self-care and prevention, not only will you alleviate some of the symptoms of financial stress, but you’ll be more resilient when pressure mounts.

Minimising financial stress will also help you work more efficiently during business hours and allows you to be present in your home life.

  • Organise, categorise and schedule your finances: Good records make it easier to manage money. There is a range of free tools and education available online to help organise your finances.
  • Get help for managing finances: This might be financial advice, financial counselling or if possible, someone to help manage your finances. Consider the benefits not just monetarily, but for your wellbeing and peace of mind.
  • Make a plan and set short and long-term goals: Planning and goal setting will help you see in advance when finances might be strained and allow you to deal with issues before they lead to stress.
  • Keep personal and business finances separate: Many business owners dip into their own pockets to top up business accounts or vice versa. Try to keep separate bank accounts, credit cards, and legal identities for business, or at least keep a good record of when you’re using personal items for business and replenish them when you can.
  • Don’t panic if you make mistakes: All small business owners are human, and we don’t always get things right. If you make an error, work to resolve it quickly and move forward. Try to keep the big picture in mind.
  • Deal with debt: If debt is a serious concern for you, consider whether there are ways to negotiate, consolidate or plan a settlement. It’s always better to deal with debt early before it becomes more problematic.

Tips for when you’re experiencing difficulty

  • Look at your cash flow and your business plan. Assess how long you can go for with current reserves.
  • Reach out for support early. Go to the bank or your accountant as soon as possible, don’t let the bills stack up.
  • Think outside of the box. Look at how you can diversify your business and find ways to make the most out of the situation.
  • Look after yourself. It’s important to take care of yourself and your mental health during these stressful times.
  • Connect within your community and learn from others.

This story is sponsored by Ahead for Business. 2020 has been one of the most stressful years on record for business owners, their managers, employees and families. If you or someone close to you is experiencing challenging emotions, please visit aheadforbusiness.org.au The site contains practical strategies and tools to assist people to regulate their feelings, and also provides access to a range of mental health resources.

Ahead for Business is an initiative of Everymind and funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

If you are in need of support for your mental health, services are available 24/7:

Lifeline 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

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Clare Loewenthal

Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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