Tips for dealing with stress in uncertain times

By Samantha Garner | April 4, 2020

mental health for entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur can be stressful anyway, let alone during a time like our current COVID-19 pandemic. As a small business owner, you’re likely under a fair amount of stress and anxiety. Here are some ways you can help reduce your stress and anxiety in uncertain times.

Exercise

You don’t have to suddenly start an at-home weight-training routine if that’s not what you’re used to, but exercise is proven to reduce stress. Take a few minutes to do whatever movement works for you, whether it’s yoga, the treadmill in your basement, or going for a walk around the block if you can do so while maintaining social distancing. Check out our post on exercises you can do at your desk.

Try “box breathing”

Studies suggest that breathing deeply from your diaphragm, instead of shallowly from the top of your lungs, can calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system.

Box breathing, or square breathing, is a method of deep, focused breathing that can help you feel a little better almost right away. Check out Healthline’s site for tips on box breathing for beginners and experts alike.

Open up to someone

We’re all experiencing stress, but the good thing about that is we can all relate to each other. Don’t feel you have to go through this alone, or that you shouldn’t feel stressed because others have it worse. This is an unprecedented time, and there is no one “right” way to behave. So, with that said, call, text, or video chat with a friend or loved one who you can trust. Even the act of talking about your feelings can help to relieve them.

Reduce your exposure to media

With our 24-hour news cycle, endless social media outlets, and the rapidly-changing nature of the pandemic, it can feel like you have to be plugged in at all times. However, this can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. It’s important to stay informed, but don’t feel you have to have your eyes on the news at all times. Let yourself check in now and then, and then move on to something else.

Allow yourself to do things you enjoy

Letting yourself unwind and enjoy a pleasurable activity without guilt can go miles in reducing your stress and anxiety. In fact, activities such as colouring and watching comedies can be good for your mental health – so they’re not frivolous at all!

Most importantly – be gentle with yourself. We’re all feeling unsettled and confused right now, and nobody expects you to be perfect. These aren’t normal times, so don’t expect your life to be exactly the way it used to be. Stay informed and follow the guidelines given for flattening the curve, but take the time to check in with yourself and make your mental health a priority.

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Mental health when working from home

By Samantha Garner | March 28, 2020

Working from home can be a rewarding and fulfilling pathway to entrepreneurship for many. However, sometimes entrepreneurs working from home can feel isolated or disconnected from colleagues and others. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are working from home who may not be used to it. It can take a toll on our mental health if we don’t have proper support or connection.

The Globe & Mail recently shared some mental health tips when working from home, from Shrad Rao, the founder of remote company Waypoint. In the article, Rao says:

As a company that’s worked 100-per-cent remotely since day one, we’ve learned some important lessons about staying mentally healthy while getting the job done from home. Our solutions may not work for your company, but if you can take any positive from our experiences, then we’re all better off for it.

Visit the Globe & Mail’s site for the full article with mental health tips from a remote company.

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COVID-19 resources for small business

By Samantha Garner | March 21, 2020

home office

At GoForth, we’re proud to partner with so many fantastic organizations across Canada. Our wonderful partner Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada has compiled a useful page of COVID-19 updates and resources for businesses and individuals.

Click here to find resources for small businesses and individuals in the wake of coronavirus.

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How to stay organized when working from home

By Samantha Garner | March 14, 2020

How to stay organized when working from home

Working from home is appealing to many entrepreneurs for its flexibility and potential cost savings. However, staying on top of your work can be difficult when you’re away from a traditional workplace. Here are some tips for keeping yourself organized when you work from home.

Have a dedicated home office space

Many home-based entrepreneurs love being able to work in a non-traditional environment. You can host an onboarding call from your couch or create your handmade jewelry at your kitchen table. However, having a dedicated office space can go miles in helping your small business succeed. Find an area in your home – it doesn’t have to be large – and keep all your files and supplies there. This will ensure you’re not scrambling for a contract in three months’ time. If you hold meetings with clients in your home office, this space will hold a larger importance and should look professional.

This area can also play a part in tax deductions for home-base businesses.

Stay on a schedule

Working from home often gives you a flexible schedule. However, there should be a schedule of some kind. Review your non-work plans and write them out, allowing for things like transportation time and traffic. Consider how these plans will fit in with your upcoming projects and deadlines, and reference this schedule often. Making sure you actually have enough time in your week will mean you’re not pulling all-nighters two days before your next deadline or deliverable. And most importantly – leave your work behind at the end of the day wherever possible! It can be tempting to keep working when you don’t actually need to, but try and stay mindful of it.

Keep on top of your filing

It’s a good idea to have a dedicated home office space, but you should definitely invest in keeping your space clutter-free and organized. Set aside regular chunks of time to review your files. Recycle, scan, or shred the items you don’t need anymore. And don’t forget about your digital clutter, too! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your computer files arranged neatly in proper, easy-to-find folders.

Make sure you hang on to these important accounting records.

Minimize distractions

Being able to stay focused and will keep you on top of things and prevent your task list from going off the rails. Try to avoid having any kids in your home treat your home office like their play room, for example, and set limits with friends or neighbours who want to call or drop by “just for a minute” if you’re in the middle of a project.

Find organizational aids in software

Whatever your small business, there’s sure to be a program that can help you stay organized. For example, at GoForth we use Slack for messaging and calls, and Dropbox for file sharing. Ask your friends or colleagues what they like, and do your research before downloading anything (especially if it sounds too good to be true)!

If you’re running a virtual business with remote workers, check out our tips on how to manage a virtual office.

Also, read some working from home tips from real entrepreneurs!

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Ways to use customer research

By Samantha Garner | March 7, 2020

creating a strong value proposition

Why is customer research so important? Take the story of the Mustang.

In the sixties, Ford Motor Company noticed a drop in sales of their Ford Falcon, and had also observed that two other major American motor companies were losing sales with similar small car models. Ford could have concluded that small cars were no longer desired by North American consumers. However, by talking to customers or potential customers about their pains, Ford was able to discover the real issue.

Ford discovered that customers were looking for sporty options and features such as manual transmissions and bucket seats. In order to respond to this need in the marketplace, Ford launched the Mustang, and was able to achieve record-breaking sales.

In the example above, Ford used customer research to solve a marketing problem: why are Ford Falcon sales falling? Entrepreneurs use market research to figure out the following:

  • The number of potential customers for their product or service (the size of their target market)
  • What price a customer would be willing to pay for their product or service
  • Customer pains that need to be solved
  • Motivations of their customers
  • How satisfied customers are with what they’re selling and how they’re selling it

For more about understanding your customers, try an Empathy Map.

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