Last week, I was sharing personal business experience with a group of young entrepreneurs. I narrated how some years back one of our businesses slipped into serious financial turmoil. We had over borrowed to the maximum and repayment became a challenge.

The situation worsened when the market went into recession. Sales went down sharply and on a typical day majority of the calls were from debtors demanding to know when they will be paid, hawkers and sales people from other companies trying to sell us their merchandise and job seekers, all who thought we were doing well, or so we seemed, and therefore worth pursuing.

After several attempt to get more financing and refinancing from banks and friends something happened that changed everything. During one hot afternoon as we were reflecting on our predicament with some staff, we realised we were spending more time dealing with debtors and creditor than looking for money from sales.

Personally it occurred I was thinking more about debts and how to find someone to loan me some money and hardly thinking or looking for someone to buy our products. I had delegated that function to fate and employees in the thickness of things.

Immediately we made a declaration that we are not pursuing any lender and we will candidly tell our creditors to stay put for some time as we get organised.

That week we had a great breakthrough. We initiated a promotional campaign that worked miracles. We forgot about everything else and focused on sales and in three months we were financially healthy again.

It was not a hard decision and implementation was fairly easy, but something had prevented us from implementing it before – stress.

Stress causes more havoc to our businesses and our lives than most of us can imagine. It blocks our mind and holds captive all our creative faculties. When your main activity as a business leader is putting out fires, you cannot think soberly.

English poet Joseph Kipling said that the earth belongs to you if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.

Many entrepreneurs would agree with Kipling that to pull out a stuck enterprise you must have audacity and capacity to keep your mind when all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.

You have to play cool when a creditor calls and castigates you for driving that car, taking your children to that expensive school, or doing this or that, yet you owe them money and pretend you are unable to pay.

Although stress has become normal and natural part of life it must not impede success. Whether it is trying win new customers, collect debts, manage cash flow, meet tight deadlines or driving through traffic you must learn how to manage it or else it will suck energy out of you and leave you tired, fatigued and unproductive.

Most of the things that stress us can be avoided by planning and the right attitude. Writing down your challenges, task and planning your actions in advance often melts stress leaving you energised to handle what is natural and unavoidable in a positive way.

Planning your day, your expenses and other activities even when finances are low and misfortunes seem to be prowling you is the best decision you can ever make. It makes you feel more in control and boost your spirits and optimism necessary to carry on.

Planning helps you to focus on the important things in a noisy clattered world. When you are experiencing a lot of stress, the surest way out is to focus only on the tasks that are the most important to improving your life and getting out of the situation.

This article was first published in the Business Daily on  March 6, 2017.
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