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Running a small business is hard

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There’s been something bouncing around social media a little bit, and I saw it, and it makes it seems to hit hard with some folks. It’s a quasi-viral ‘share and share on your timeline’ kind of thing that addresses the stresses of operating a small business, which is hard enough even without COVID and all the supply chain issues and workforce shortages we have faced over the last year. The post is called Running a small business is hard. I’m going to post it here.

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Running a small business is hard.

Laura Holly is the director of prevention for Meridian Behavioral Healthcare and has worked in and or around mental health for nearly twenty years in various capacities. She is a subject matter expert on stress management and was a master resilience trainer working for the United States Army. She’s a wife and a mom; she’s Laura. Ms. Holly also understands the unique experience of navigating a family and a career against the backdrop of a global pandemic how that can wreak havoc on folks.

The clinician holds a master’s in counseling from liberty university and is a certified facilitator of over a dozen curricula supporting prevention efforts in mental health, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and victimization. Laura is also the co-host of the popular mental health podcast, The Brain Factor

I’m the daughter of a small business owner

I took a look at it and what jumped off the page at me is I’m the daughter of a small business owner, so I grew up with a family business. My father is in tool and die manufacturing and has a small plant in New Jersey. So you know, I was cleaning toilets at the age of ten in the shop, and keeping the books by thirteen. The lifestyle around being a small business owner has always included this element of when things get thick, and things get tough, we do what needs to be done. We step up to the plate, we go all in, we make all these sacrifices. It’s the blood, sweat, tears, and all that equity put into the business.

So when the pandemic began, it was here we go again. We’re not a stranger to adversity if we’re running small businesses, so we’re going to jump in. We’re going to do. We know how to do this, and then, as things drag on, what we know how to do it less fitting. And other layers were happening there as well.

I think, particularly for small business owners or anybody in an industry where rising to the challenge is a periodic expectation, we need to challenge ourselves to realize how different, how very different this is. We can sit in a room, we can sit on the podcast, we can say how different it is – but out there in practice, when we’re working every day, we’re not necessarily treating it any further. That’s where a lot of these burn out outputs come from. Something interesting happened at the year mark from a psychological standpoint, right? So, the brain has all these tremendous fail-safes and releases these great chemicals and things to protect us and give us the things we need to do to get by.

That’s why you hear of these crises, and people can lift cars and do all kinds of stuff. We get this burst of what we needed to get through the beginning, and then it didn’t stop. We didn’t get the recovery period. It kept going. And for many of us, like small business owners, we had added layers that started occurring, It didn’t just get better or pause for us to recover; it got worse right because our employees were rallying in the beginning. They were there for us. Our families understood. This is not a new business. Then those things started to fall apart too.

And, so there are these added layers in a sustained crisis; sustained trauma hits different. It beats others psychologically, it hits others physically, and we have to make some changes. Those changes that need to be made are not familiar to a small business owner to somebody who’s used to going out there and doing the hustle all the time.

Laura Holly
Running a business is hard.

All of a sudden, all of the rules were changed and changed drastically. And then somehow, and I know it’s not just me because I spoke with other folks too. To Laura’s point above, at that one-year mark, I’m looking at new year’s day as the light at the end of the tunnel for no apparent reason. I don’t know why I think the first year makes everything better, but that’s the light at the end of the tunnel.

I have to make it through this year, and then all of a sudden, everything will get better. Well, guess what – it didn’t get better. Now, on top of all of it, we can add disappointment. That’s when it hits you because you know you’re strong when you have to be strong. Then you let your guard down, and you get smacked right in the face again, and that’s what a lot of folks are experiencing.

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Life didn’t give us that opportunity.

I think that again is going back to how you’re hard-wired as a small business owner. Get through the year, get through the quarter, and then we turn the page in the ledger. It’s new, and and we, and we get to figure out where we go from here. But, the world and life didn’t give us that opportunity. Over the past going on three years now, you know, going into this third year. I think that the changes that have to be made feel counterintuitive to how people who do this for a living are wired…

Laura Holly

Listen to our entire conversation with Laura Holly of Meridian Behavioral Healthcare here 👇


Rudy Stankowitz is a 30-year veteran of the swimming pool industry and President/CEO of Aquatic Facility Training & Consultants