Today is R U OK day, although we really should be asking each other this question every day, not just today.
Australians spent $50.46 Billion online in 2020 up 57% year-on-year and this year continues to grow. Australia Post just employed 4,000 additional people to keep up with demand and will be delivering on weekends for the rest of the year. You could say there’s no better time to have an online store.
However, despite all the amazing figures, it’s also the hardest time to have an online store, especially if you’re stuck in lockdown.
Juggling a business, home-schooling kids, supporting your family and being isolated from the ones you love is bloody tough and I know many of you are feeling the effects.
What many people don’t know is that I first started working for myself because I was suffering from depression and anxiety and could no longer work for someone else. I needed to do something that could still make me an income even if I couldn’t get out of bed some days. The freedom and flexibility of working for myself has certainly had many other benefits over the years, but this is what kicked off my entrepreneurial journey back in 2011.
I’m here to tell you it’s OK not to be OK. It’s OK to reach out for support and it’s OK to say no to things you just can’t take on right now.
If you are your business and you wear all the hats then your business relies on you to succeed. Your business can only thrive if you look after yourself, and give yourself a break when you need it. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
It’s OK to take a break
If you aren’t coping right now, it’s OK to take a break. The country feels you and people understand it can’t always be business as usual. Your community, the right people, will understand if you need to put orders on hold for a while so you can look after yourself and your mental health. Trust me, it’s more important than any sale.
There are a few ways to do this – you can be completely honest and communicate with your customers that the store is closing for a little while so you can take some RnR. Or if you’re just taking a short amount of time, such as a week, you can just make the shipping expectations clear so they know things will be a bit longer than usual. Taking a short break now, may stop you from having to take a much longer break later.
Find Your Community
Thanks to the internet, we can be more connected than ever, even though we are apart. Megan and I run this business together yet haven’t seen each other for nearly 2 years. Since we last caught up we’ve both had babies!
We run a free Facebook group, Unstoppable eCommerce Entrepreneurs which is a safe space for online store owners to connect, learn and support each other. Sometimes just finding other people who are on the same journey as you can help. There may also be local community groups you can join online and who knows maybe one day you can even catch up with them in real life!
Take time for yourself
Self care almost seems like a bit of a buzz word these days, but it really is so important. I know the idea of taking time for yourself can seem impossible if you’re homeschooling and juggling your business but even just an hour a week where you just do something for you can make a huge difference. Take a bath, read a book, meditate, whatever helps you rejuvenate.
Turn off notifications
When you’re stressed, a phone buzzing with notifications of things you have to do only adds to your stress. Turn off your social media and email notifications and just make time to check them once a day. This will help you get into a routine and stop them interrupting you all through the day.
Checking your emails at set times during the day will also stop you having to put out fires all day long. I recommend checking them when you start your work for the day (not when you first wake up) and again in the afternoon. Avoid checking them all day long.
Exercise + eat healthy
It’s a vicious cycle that when we don’t feel great we start to go without the things that help us most – we skip that walk and we start turning to bad food (I know I do!). A healthy diet and exercise however is crucial for maintaining your mental and physical health. Try to go for a walk every day, even if it’s just around the block – the fresh air will do you a world of good.
There is lots of help available if you are struggling, so please don’t go it alone. Beyond Blue has developed a program ‘NewAccess’ specifically for business owners. It’s a free and confidential mental health support service available to anyone aged 18 or over who owns a small business, from any industry including sole traders. You can find out more at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/newaccess/newaccess-for-small-business-owners
From personal experience if you’re feeling down, or just not quite right please see your doctor. Life really can be so much better when you treat your mental health like you would any other illness.
If you are struggling and need help right now you can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Check in with others
Check in on your friends and family, send them a message, a fun photo or give them a call. Let them know you are thinking of them and help them find support if they need it.
Written by Karyn Parkinson
Karyn AKA Karyn with a Y is an eCommerce marketing specialist specialising in Facebook ad funnels and website optimisation.
When she's not behind the computer you'll find her at the beach with her fur babies or on the roller derby track as Pink Fury!