Harbouring regrets is unhealthy—I get that. But if I were allowed to harbour one regret, it would be that I didn’t routinely schedule whole days off from my business for recreation. That’s where the fishing friend comes in: a character who embodies a commitment to time off from your small business. I now know that one day a week away from my business would’ve alleviated a lot of accumulated stress.
Working excessively can become a bad habit, even to the degree that you feel guilty if you’re not at the office or staring at a spreadsheet on your computer. And I can’t claim that those days when I worked when I should have been spending time with my fishing friend (or family and Jack Russell terriers) were productive. In fact, my presence on those days didn’t do me or my business any good.
You may have no interest in fishing at all, but that’s not the point. You can have a cycling friend, hiking friend, skiing friend, running friend, swimming friend, sailing friend, boating friend, mountain-climbing friend, dog-enthusiast friend, and so on and so on. If the activity involves the outdoors, so much the better. But you have to commit to a designated day—no excuses.
Many people view small business ownership as a stress-free, fun existence based on encounters with smiling receptionists, cheerful customer service representatives, or chatty technicians. Who can blame these people for not realizing that the facade of smiling faces can conceal financial worries, long hours, illness, and a fistful of other stress-inducing circumstances?
These situations in small businesses can be more dangerous to an owner’s health than similar situations in big businesses. Big businesses offer paid-for employee assistance programs and other resources that a small business owner might not have access to. Small business owners are very much on their own in times of crisis, and that’s when a healthcare professional becomes an important resource.
My own experience with business-related stress, the suicide deaths of three small-business associates, and the near suicide death of another all underscored the necessity to include a healthcare professional as a character in this book. In the context of this chapter, “healthcare professional” includes any healthcare professional appropriate to the malady—general practitioners, specialists, psychiatrists, chiropractors, ophthalmologists, and so forth.