Psych-up tips for business owners

Maintaining a clear head in business can be a challenge, but one expert says it can also make a difference to your bottom line and future prospects. 

Stephanie Thompson is the principal corporate psychologist at Insight Matters, Corporate Psychology and Coaching, a small business that she started 14 years ago.

With two decades of experience as a corporate psychologist, Ms Thompson told Dynamic Business that a poor mental state can lead to making poor business decisions.

“It’s like compounding interest on a bank account, poor decisions, they are not just isolated but they tend to lead to further poor decisions. It works the same in the other direction,” she said.

Ms Thompson said there were a number of qualities that helped people succeed in business. The first was whether an individual was independent or creatively minded. For such people “working for someone else has its natural limit”.

A degree of resilience and adaptability is also essential. Ms Thompson said that people often had to expand their areas of expertise and become so-called “all-rounders”. Often this means doing uninspiring yet essential tasks such as being your own cleaner, administrator and accountant.

“In terms of preparedness, there’s nothing that will fully prepare you. You have to experience it to fully understand what you’re in for. One of the major challenges is a lot of people are technical or subject matter experts of some kind, or unusually good at one particular thing. They may not be particularly good all-rounders,” she said.

“If you are lucky to have very good relationship skills then sometimes people with different proclivities come and build a business together. That’s wonderfully lucky… If the person is just one person starting out on their own, then one thing is learning how to do a few things that don’t inspire you.”

Successful business people are also effective managers of disappointment, particularly when plans are delayed.

“It’s almost always slower than people expect,” Ms Thompson warned.

However, this does not mean that positivity is to be discarded. Ms Thompson suggested that many tasks would never be completed if not for peoples’“misguided level of optimism”.

Communication skills and the development of an “emotional intelligence” will also reap benefits for business owners, particularly as their business begins to expand and more people can be employed on a full or part time basis.

Working around the clock may not be the smartest option for everyone but especially for those individuals heading into middle age who may no longer have a youthful energy and drive. Sometimes a clever business strategy can make up in productivity for what is lacking in terms of hours spent on the job.

Finally, if the business undertaking is sizeable, Ms Thompson said that it was essential to take on a competent financial planner and accountant at the start of the process rather than “flying by the seat of your pants”.

In the end, having a positive and health mental attitude at work will influence those around you and even make the difference between making that all important extra sale.