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Six Tips For Staying Sane And Happy Before Opening A Business

opening a business

Guest blog by Stephanie Thompson | Registered Psychologist and Medicare Australia Allied Health Professional

According to new research released last week, more than one in ten (12%) SME owners across the country have been diagnosed with depression, stress or anxiety as a result of running their own company.

Finding’s from BOQ’s Business Balance Report revealed that close to a quarter (24%) of small business owners had become physically unwell as a result of operating their sole venture, while a further 15% had sought the services of a psychologist to help them manage the daily pressure.

From experiencing regular sleep problems (35%), constant fatigue (21%) and feeling distanced from friends and family (15%), we spoke to leading psychologist Stephanie Thompson and asked for her top tips on how to avoid the worst of unanticipated challenges and stresses. 

Here Stephanie shares her six golden rules on how to stay sane and happy when opening, running and growing your own business:

  1. Find an SME buddy.

Like many things in life, a problem shared is a problem halved.  If your family and social circle is made up of career employees, it may be hard to find an empathic ear because life as an employee has radically different pressures from business ownership.  Organise regular catch-ups with others who are also building or running a business, for support and suggestions.

  1. Employ competent financial consultants.

One of the most distressing business experiences is to run into serious financial trouble.  Unless you are a financial expert yourself, having someone skilled and diligent oversee your accounts will save you a great deal of pain. I cannot recommend this highly enough!

Employing the wrong person may cause you more pain – not everyone with a certificate on their wall is truly competent in the practice of their profession. Ask around your SME friends for a recommendation and trust your instincts.

  1. Remember that revenue does not equal wages.

This is incredibly important to get your head around so you can plan accordingly. I recommend you estimate all of your earnings after cost of premises, equipment, materials, salaries, insurance, holiday leave, sick leave, parental leave, professional development, transport, uncollectable debts and other losses, interest charges, business and personal taxes and consultant fees for services such as accounting, IT and legal.  The money left over is what you get to keep.

  1. Choose partners wisely – don’t compromise your values for money.

In two out of three cases of extreme stress among my SME executive coaching clients, at the centre is a financially-binding relationship with an individual whose behaviour is intensely disruptive to others’ wellbeing. A disproportionate amount of time and emotional resources are wasted managing the impact of this unpleasant person, across months or years.  If in doubt, don’t do it.

  1. Schedule time for family, exercise and self-care.

Make this a habit from the start, otherwise these things will be continually pushed down your priority list until they fall off it altogether. Soon enough you’ll be estranged from your family, your garden will be a mess, your belly will be too big and you will be wondering why you started this business ‘for lifestyle reasons’.  Diarise these essential elements of life, just like you should with other important appointments. 

opening a businessAbout Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson is a registered psychologist and Medicare Australia Allied Health Professional based in New South Wales. For more information on Stephanie Thompson, visit

This blog post is for general information purposes only and is not intended as financial or professional advice. It has not been prepared with reference to the financial circumstances of any particular person or business and should not be relied on as such. You should seek your own independent financial, legal and taxation advice before making any decision about any action in relation to the material in this article.


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