It’s the same old story. We see it time and again. “Bob’s” business is struggling. Clients are leaving. His client, “Fran”, likes him but things have now gone too far. Fran is moving her business to another provider. They are not the first to get frustrated with him. Things have been tough for Bob for a while now, the government is taxing him, and his family life is getting the better of him. Bob has been bitten by the black dog and now it’s biting his business.
My colleagues and I at the Polaris Centre have seen the effects caused by depression in several of the businesses that we have worked with over the last few years, both from the sufferer of depression and the business owners that have gone and moved their business away from the sufferer. No one is ever happy about the situation.
When I owned my own business the pressure of bills, life and responsibilities got too much. The jobs were rolling in but cash flow was tight. I was depressed. I got a job and my main pressure was alleviated. Feeding the family was suddenly a lot easier. But bridges were undoubtedly burnt and trust was absolutely lost. For a while I felt like a “failed business owner”. Four years down the track I am happier than ever in my job role and life in general.
Being a small business owner is often a lot less glamorous than it appeared when the idea started to become reality. The expectations you place upon yourself are high, sometimes higher even than those of your clients. Everybody keeps telling you that you have to: “learn new software, create online marketing campaigns, do your own books, manage your own databases, update your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest……..” arrrrgggggggh.
On top of those jobs you never knew you would have to do there’s the reality that you need money to feed your family, pay your employees, put fuel in your car ….. the list is endless.
There is no doubt that owning and running your own business is hard work. The problems really start to mount and seem insurmountable when the pressure becomes depression. Fortunately it is never too late to get help and there is plenty of help out there:
- Beyondblue particularly through tools like their Business in Mind program.
- Mental health national help lines
- beyondblue support line – 1300 22 4636
- SANE Australia Helpline – 1800 187 263
- Mensline Australia – 1300 789 978
- Relationships Australia – 1300 364 277
- Carers Australia – 1800 242 636
- Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
- Your business mentor
- Colleagues and friends
If you are a client of a business owner suffering with depression, here are some tips to get you through the rough patch:
- Be understanding perhaps even empathetic; if you have been through it you know it’s hard
- Business is business but people are people; separate the business decision of moving away from the relationship with the person
- Bridges can be burnt but they can also be rebuilt
- Take the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience
If the black dog has bitten your business, share your experience in the comments below.
Photo Credit Alex E. Proimos on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/5907150131/sizes/l/