Last week we saw that stress is the leading cause of business failure. When stress causes havoc to your health it renders you incapable of fighting in the market place or making rational decisions which are key to business success.

Stress has been studied and debated widely, yet not a single remedy has been prescribed as a cure for it.

The first step in managing stress is to establish the stressor. Common stressors in life include failure to meet our objectives and expectations, worries about future uncertainties and inability to manage change.

However, the real stress comes from our own reaction to such demands rather than their magnitude.

An example is given of a teacher who began her class by holding up a glass of water.

“What will happen if I hold it like this for an hour?” she asked.

“Your arm will begin to ache,” answered one student.

“You are right. What about if I held it for a day or two?” queried the teacher.

“Your arm could go numb and you might suffer muscle pain or even paralysis necessitating urgent medical intervention.”

“You are very right. Now, what caused the problem when the weight did not changed?”

This analogy demonstrates how stress gets hold of us. Contrary to what many people think, stress is not caused by big things such as hurts, losses or disasters which hit us from time to time.

The main stressors that sap our energy, wreck havoc on our health and ruin our businesses are little things that keep disturbing us for long such as tolerating a non-performing employee, unresolved customer complaints and little things that you don’t like doing but you have to do them every day because there is no one to do them.

Also, persistent worries about what might happen in the future if things continue like this stresses us.

In my experience the most potent way of managing stress or avoiding most of it is learning how to manage your expectations.

As a rule, when investing in a business venture I multiply the expected input by three and divide the expected output by three.

For example, if I have a project that I expect to spend Sh100,000 on and make a profit of Sh30,000 I prepare for an unfortunate scenario where the cost could go up three times to Sh300,000 and profit shrink by one third to Sh10,000. If I cannot manage that eventuality I leave it.

Whether it is the money you expect to make, the input by your employees, reception of the product or service by customers, your own input and what you get out of it; you have to get it right or risk stress.

Secondly, do not be too emotionally attached to your business such that if it sinks it goes down with you.

Reconcile yourself to the fact that every venture is risky and anything can happen, including closing shop.

Thirdly, live each day at a time. Do not encumber yourself with future concerns so much that you are unable to enjoy today.

Focus on serving your customers well today. You are what you are today largely because of what you did in the past and not what you are doing today. You can only change your future by living well today.

Finally, adopt the right attitude towards everything in life. Complaining about things you cannot change is defeatist. Focus on doing what you can and accept change as an ally rather than an adversary.

Mr Kiunga is a business trainer and author of ‘The Entrepreneurial Journey: From Employment to Business’.

This article was first published in Business Daily


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