Ladies, it’s time to hang up the cape.
Unless it is closely monitored, many small business women overcommit, take on far more that can be realistically managed and try to do it all. This “I can do it all” attitude is known as the superwoman syndrome.
The superwoman syndrome is not just limited to business, the “I can do it all” mentality includes being a great mum, a loving partner, a best friend, a daughter, being part of an extended family, managing a household, being a member of the community as well as all those other obligations we say yes to.
No wonder small business women (and women in general for that matter) often complain of be super stressed and exhausted.
The biggest risk of tying to be superwomen is burnout. Burnout sneaks up on you. You can push through and keep on top of those unrealistic expectations for a while, but then it catches up with you and it hits you big time. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
Just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you should.
It is not possible to be your best self, nor thrive in small business, when you feel depleted, stressed and exhausted. To achieve greatness, to do meaningful work that you love and to make a positive difference to the world, then you need to feel good and to feel good you need to take care of yourself. Often this means you need to do less in order to make the space for greatness. When you feel good, you can give more to your business and to your customers.
Remember, superwoman is a fictional character and shouldn’t be used as a role model, she is entertainment only. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, YOU are human, humans have their limitations and that is totally ok.
4 tips to overcome the superwoman syndrome for small business owners:
1. Prioritise and eliminate
You will need to give up things in order to achieve great things, and you will need to give up things to avoid future overload.
Before you eliminate tasks and activities, you first need to prioritise. Work out what is essential and very important for your business and you personally (life shouldn’t be only about business). All those essential and important tasks are what you should be focusing your time and energy on. Thinking about what you can ‘realistically’ get done, look through the remainder of the items on your to do list and start crossing off things (except for those nurturing activities, we will get to that later).
Now your priorities are going to change constantly. Let’s just say you have a product launch coming up and you know anytime you do a launch you need to be highly focused and things get crazy busy, so during this time do not book meetings with clients, reduce your time spent on your business social media pages, say no to dinner out with friends and if you need to, let the house get a little untidy. Then let’s say school holidays are coming up and your priority is to spend time with your kids, so you decide to work half days and choose only simple tasks to work on that can be done with children running around, or perhaps you take time away from your business entirely during this time.
2. Ask for help and delegate
I understand as a small business owner that you need to wear many hats. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get assistance and delegate tasks. In fact, you should be asking for help and delegating tasks. For example, can you ask family members to help with household chores to free up time so you can work on your business? An important skill to learn in business is delegation, I know it’s hard to let go of control at times, but you should be delegating business tasks to people who have that strength when it is your weakness, and delegate low value tasks.
Outsourcing work does incur a cost, but to grow your small business you need to delegate those tasks that gets in the way of you making your business great. You will achieve far more with assistance, than what you can ever do on your own.
If you’re just starting out in small business you might not have the money to outsource, in which case you will just need to take things slowly. When money does come in and you are in a position to consider outsourcing, start small. For example, a virtual assistance 3 hours a week could make an enormous impact on your productivity.
3. Get comfortable with saying no
The word ‘no’ should be part of your vocabulary. ‘No’ is something you might feel uncomfortable with and you might even feel guilty about saying. But you need to say no. When you say no to something, you are creating the space for the right yesses for your business, and life.
The trouble with saying yes, is that it accumulates. It might be a small yes, something that is easy for you to do and maybe even something you want to do, but those small yesses can quickly become too much.
Think about what you want for your small business and use it as your guide for what you should be saying yes and no to. Sometimes things will just be better for someone else to do, rather than you.
A no doesn’t need to be given harshly, you can say no and be gentle in its delivery.
4. Do something just for you
The key to wellness is taking good care of yourself. Rest and rejuvenation is essential for small business owners and especially for women, as they have a tendency to put others before themselves. But you must put yourself first.
Putting yourself first does not mean being selfish, heartless and not caring for others. It just means making time in order to revitalise yourself. You cannot give from an empty cup, when you are rested and relaxed you can give more and get more done.
Give yourself a break and do something just for you, something that makes you feel good, something nurturing. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, one of my favourite things I do to relax and renew is to sit with a coffee overlooking the ocean early in the morning, just as the sun is rising and only a few people are about.
Commit to practicing one form of self-care each day.
Are you one of the many small business women that suffer from the superwoman syndrome? If you are, what is one step you will take today to work toward overcoming it?