FROM PENNY POWER OBE, CO-FOUNDER OF THE BUSINESS CAFE
Mental Health, OR Mental Strength?
Having a strong mind to cope with the ups and downs of being a business owner is one of the major assets we can create for ourselves. When I reflect on 19 years of business ownership, I know that there have been so many dark days and terrifying moments that have rocked my self belief and self worth and have resulted in sleeplessness, palpitations and even anxiety.
There are few people who would not relate to this, yet this is an unreported area within the business world and unknown as a statistic within the mental health sector. Self awareness is a big step in this, but also so is the awareness that others feel just like you. When you work in LargeCo you may have access to mental health resources, at least in most reputable, caring companies. When you work alone, you have to get up and work, no matter what is happening in your life.
The cashflow fears, the over-stretching of our capacity, the bad debts, the skills we know we should have but can’t focus on or pay to learn.
Then there are days like this… The day my brother died, my mother died, my sister’s daughter died, the day we lost our home, the day my children suffered a trauma As a business owner, like you, I still had to answer the phone calls, manage my clients and even attend presentations to potential clients. The strength we need when we cannot delegate, call in sick or take time out is quite extraordinary. You know it, I know it, but what can we do about it?
We can’t become victims, we have made the beautiful choice to make our difference and tread our own path, be in control of our future and chose the culture and people we work with. However, the new world of social media displays perfection and success. We don’t want to share our pain online. When we go networking offline, we hold our heads up and join the masses who appear to be managing and building their prosperity.
Deep within my soul, I want to create a place for friendship and to ensure that others know they are not alone. That having vulnerabilities is not a weakness, in fact, facing these vulnerabilities is brave and helps people trust you even more. Your journey of life, the part of you that fights on and believes in the vision you are creating for others to see, will have often come from adversity and purpose, that exactly the reality your clients want, that gives you drive and empathy and commitment.
Toughing it out and putting on a brave face becomes the norm and – as is in the case of 78% of the SME population – working alone without a colleague in the business, loneliness and isolation can set in. The opportunity to share a worry or vulnerability becomes extraordinarily rare. This is what The Business Café community is all about.
Our mission is to provide support, community, business friendship and skills to our membership entirely free of charge and judgement.
In this page of our website, we are beginning to build the culture that is the foundation of The Business Cafe, you will feel it online in our Facebook groups and offline in our cafes. Friendship First is not a marketing strap line, it is us.
Our campaign for this will include Public Affairs, petitions, research and building a network of good people that want to help with mental strains and pains. Plus the creation of a ‘safe place’ in all towns for business owners to come to when they feel overwhelmed and in need of Mental Health First Aid.
Sponsorship opportunities are available for complementary and empathic brands. CSR contributions and support are welcomed. We are seeking enlightened brands to work with us on this special agenda, as we work with mental health and well-being experts to provide reports on our culture and impact and showing the economy how together we are respecting and growing this sector in order to support their goals, their family needs and local economies.
Make contact to see how you can put your CSR budget to great effect and show your support for the mental health and strength of those in small business.
To chat more with us about this, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org