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Gloucestershire Business News

The impact of Covid-19 on small business owners' mental health - Hayley Parker of OPS-BOX

By Hayley Parker, director and founder of OPS-BOX 

It's been quite a year for everyone - running a business has been no easy task and the usual daily stresses of being a business owner have been exacerbated by the uncertainty and financial pressures brought about by lockdowns and the subsequent shutdown of businesses and society.

Research into the impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing of small businesses, reveal a worrying spike in stress and anxiety and a potential emerging mental health crisis.

Findings show that 82 per cent of small business owners feel the pandemic is having a negative impact on their mental health; 19 per cent describe their current mental wellbeing as 'bad' and 47 per cent are worried about how their mental health will hold up throughout 2021.

Brian Dow, chief executive of Mental Health UK, said: "It's an incredibly tough time for small business owners, with increasing economic uncertainty and disruption impacting not only the health of their business, but also their own wellbeing and resilience as they try to weather the storm.

But with the vaccination programme gathering pace and the roadmap out of lockdown underway, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. But what can business owners do to look after their own wellbeing and that of their business post pandemic?

Hayley Parker, director and founder of OPS-BOX Group shares her advice:

1) Seek out support

Running your own business can be a lonely place, especially when there are challenges to face. Everyone needs a sounding board sometimes - and often a problem shared is a problem halved. People within your business and indeed friends and family are often too 'close' to provide objective advice, however establishing a trusted partner or network that you can turn to and learn from is an invaluable resource.

It is also important for business owners to take steps to improve their own wellbeing - whilst it is tempting to put in extra hours in times of stress, it is equally important to take time out for yourself - read more, do more exercise, connect with friends and family - or whatever it is that works for you!

For more structured support, Mental Health UK is developing a tailored mental health support product for small business owners, which provides all small business owners with practical tools, access to support networks and trained mental health specialists.

2) Get a handle on your finances

Unsurprisingly, finance has been an area of great concern during the pandemic - more than three quarters (78 per cent) of SME owners said they've been worried about cash flow during the pandemic - the most significant concern mentioned by respondents. To really understand the potential financial position for your business, you need to undertake financial forecasting using 3 different scenarios - best, worst and realistic case.

Questions to ask yourself include - What do your financial forecasts tell you? What does your sales plan look like to achieve the sales? How can you increase sales? Where and how can you make cost savings? What would a change in invoice terms do to your cashflow? Do you need any funding support? If you have already received funding, how long will the money last & how are you spending it? Can you afford the repayments when they start?

Having a clear picture of your finances and a structured plan to manage them should make you feel more able to control your finances, rather than them controlling you!

3) Make a plan

Although the situation can seem ever-changing, it is still essential to work to a plan - with a goal and an end destination for your business. You may need to double back and change course along the way - but having a goal and a plan of how you might get there, will give you focus and a feeling of control over your destiny.

In our experience, it is those businesses who take proactive steps to plan for their recovery and put the necessary time and resources in place to deliver that plan - who will emerge stronger and fitter than before.

Hayley Parker is director and founder of OPS-BOX Group. OPS-BOX provide a range of support services to help businesses of all size and type to grow and succeed. 

If you would benefit from working with a business partner, get in touch today, to find out how OPS-BOX could support your business to be the success you want it to be.

Call us on 07759 407064 or 07432 557966, or email enquiries@ops-boxgroup.com

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