10 helpful strategies for restructuring your management team

Question: What’s one of the 10 helpful strategies for restructuring your management team?
Answer: Integrate new leaders with the existing team.

“Don’t switch out the entire management team at once. Keep reliable key leaders, and allow for new leaders to step up and integrate with the proven management team structure for strong growth.”
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

For the full article go to “10 helpful strategies for restructuring your management team” at The Business Journals.

14 must-do activities for leadership groups in Q4

Question: What’s one of the 14 must-do activities for leadership groups in Q4?
Answer: Dig into strategic planning for the coming year.

“A necessary “must-do” is strategic planning for the coming year, through all-day or several-day meetings. Review the past year’s goals, successes and areas of improvement, then build on those and reset for the upcoming year with a fresh start.”
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

For the full article go to “14 must-do activities for leadership groups in Q4” at The Business Journals.

12 ways leaders can handle multiple jobs without burning out

Small businesses often run on limited resources, which don’t always leave available funds for hiring an ideal number of employees to cover all the work that needs to be done. Most small business leaders are required to wear multiple hats to cut costs.

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While this is a cost-effective strategy, it requires a lot of energy and time on the leaders’ part, which can lead to leaders becoming overwhelmed and eventually burning out. Below, 12 professionals from Business Journals Leadership Trust offer advice on how a leader can manage to handle multiple jobs without burning out.

1. Break tasks down by dividing them into two buckets.
As a solopreneur responsible for everything, I break out tasks into two buckets. Administrative functions ensure the smooth functioning of my business, and these non-critical tasks can be delegated. High ROI functions, like client coaching and business development, directly impact the bottom line and are too important to delegate. I focus on only those tasks that bring the greatest value to me and my clients. – Faizun Kamal, The Franchise Pros

2. Seek guidance and counsel when necessary.
Small business leaders manage to wear various hats within their organizations by possessing the following qualities of being open-minded, positive, hard-working, humble, disciplined and consistent. They must also be willing to seek guidance and counsel when necessary. Additionally, a leader must learn to trust and delegate tasks as needed in order for the organization to reach its optimal potential. – Robert McCray, Vantage Realty Capital

3. Write tasks down to conquer them one at a time.
As a business leader, you must always be ready to do whatever is necessary to keep the business running efficiently. To prevent burnout and feeling overwhelmed when you have to wear multiple hats, write all open tasks down and conquer them one at a time, checking them off the list as you go. Seeing the tasks written down in an organized format helps bring a sense of organization to the chaos. – Donna Stockham, Stockham Law Group, P.A

4. Map out your day before you start.
Map out your day before you start your day. Whether you do it at the end of a workday or at the beginning, look at your schedule and create blocks on your calendar as to when you will complete each task or group of tasks. And then stick to it! If you can get yourself in tune with this discipline, it will be easier to take on more with less stress. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

5. Utilize as much technology as possible.
Make sure you utilize as much technology as possible. Focus on “human tasks” for humans and allow automation to do the rest. There are many inexpensive ways to automate, even with limited resources. Take the time to lead by creating silos of tasks and making the most of human talent. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

6. Be methodical in your approach to the day.
One can manage burnout by being methodical in the way they approach the workday. A well-disciplined approach includes taking care of key initiatives early in the day, leaving the remainder of the day to handle various tasks and ending each day with handling any emails. Setting boundaries will ensure that you start the day fresh, and you’ll be able to handle three times the work with this steady approach. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7. Use automation to lighten loads when possible.
I am of the opinion that you shouldn’t do a job that you are not passionate about. Use automation wherever possible to reduce workloads. Prioritize tasks, train your team and delegate. Hire a skilled workforce, create a collaborative environment, inspire and empower your team. Manage your time and build next-generation leaders. – Samy Muthusamy, reliableparts.com

8. Prioritize the work that brings the most value.
Prioritizing that which will bring the organization the most value, even if it isn’t perfect, is essential. Imperfect action yields better results than inaction. – Justin Livingston, Reflektions Ltd

9. Set aside one day a week to tackle strategy.
I like setting aside one day a week to tackle strategy and work on gnarly problems without interruption. This answers two important pieces of business ownership by allowing for visioning, strategy and deep thinking with focus and helping you spend the rest of your week mentally present with your customers and your team. Everyone wins! – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

10. Delegate to grow with every initial hire.
Delegate to grow. When I started my firm, I did sales, recruiting, operations, accounting, IT, etc. With every initial hire, I looked for leaders who could take on these responsibilities. This freed me up to do the things I do best and allowed others to shine in areas of my weakness. Know that others may not do things the same way as you, so set goals for them and get out of their way. – Matt Rosen, Allata

11. Have clear business goals and objectives.
Having clear business goals and objectives is critical to determining which tasks and activities are most important and impactful. Chasing shiny objects and going down unnecessary rabbit holes can easily create overwhelm and burnout. Knowing exactly what needs to be accomplished to get the business where you want to take it streamlines decision making and reduces the risk of overwhelm and burnout. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

12. Organize and prioritize well in advance.
I’ve found the best way to effectively manage multiple roles and responsibilities in an organization is to organize and prioritize. I manage my calendar to the minute, a week or two in advance, including time-blocking for non-interrupted work sessions. I also prioritize my tasks on a daily and weekly level based on what’s important, not just urgent. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

New to a leadership role? 9 ways to delegate and avoid micromanaging your team

Overseeing your first project as a newly minted team leader can be an exciting step in your professional journey. However, those new to a leadership position may struggle initially to let go of tasks they’re accustomed to handling themselves, especially during their first forays into project management. However, learning how to delegate and manage without micromanaging are critical components of becoming a good leader.

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So how can new leaders ensure they’re providing the support their team needs without overstepping boundaries or tackling tasks other roles within the team are better suited for? Below, members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their best tips for new leaders who need guidance on overseeing projects and delegation without micromanaging their teams.

1. Determine which of your tasks are most critical.
Take time to focus on your most critical tasks early in the day, before the full swing of the day brings up distractions that can slow down your work. By doing this, you will be able to determine which tasks are most important. At the end of the day, anything you have not gotten to is likely something you can delegate to someone else. This is a natural way of determining priorities. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Make two lists.
I often encourage leaders to draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left side, write down all the things that you are doing that others could do. On the right side, make a list of all the things only you can do that you need to do more of, but aren’t able to. The objective is to reduce the left side through decision making or delegation and plan for how you will engage with the right side more. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates

3. Hold a kickoff meeting.
Bring the team together for a kickoff meeting to discuss expectations, roles, who’s responsible for what, key milestones or deadlines, how often you’ll check in to report progress, when and how you’ll do beta tests, and how the review and approval process will go. Build some buffer time in for the unexpected. And remember that your job is to set the vision and quarterback, not get in the weeds. – Mary-Cathryn Kolb, brrr

4. Ask for input, and praise good work.
Ask team members for their input from the start and praise them for work well done. It is surprising how empowering it is to allow employees to shine, and they often will choose more responsibility than a new leader might be comfortable offering. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

5. Define what should be done, but not how.
Define the task(s), and tell your team what should be done — but, in most cases, not how it should be done. Passionately wait for the result. If you’re satisfied, great. If you are not satisfied, discuss it with the person or with the team (depending on the task). It works for me. – Gennady Feller, Safe Partner, Inc.

6. Provide the needed resources.
Remember, you are no longer the doer, you are the leader. Your ability to know the details will help you guide and teach your team so they can grow and do great work. They need you to lead them, provide the resources and knock down obstacles for them. Ask questions, have them show you what they are doing and explain their thinking, and suggest options if needed, but do not do their work for them. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC

7. Provide clear direction about your expectations.
Determine how much oversight you want to have and set those expectations with your team. You may need regular updates on a project, but at times, you may never want to think about certain tasks again. Your team members will appreciate the clear direction, and you will only have to worry about following up on the projects you want to be involved with. – E. Tanner Milne, Menlo Group Commercial Real Estate

8. Be open to the possibility of failure.
Keep in mind that when you delegate, you must be open to the possibility that failure will occur. Delegate nonessential tasks and items where failure can be used as a learning opportunity. If failure is absolutely not an option, retain that task yourself or delegate with oversight. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

9. Trust, but verify.
Trust your staff to fulfill their duties, just as you were trusted. However, follow up to make sure that your trust is not misplaced. – Christine Durrett, Durrett & Kersting PLLC

11 leaders’ tips for bringing your team back into the office

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, many businesses were rapidly thrust into work-from-home arrangements. While some companies plan to stay remote for the long haul, others may want — or need — to bring their employees back into the office, whether full-time or as part of a hybrid working arrangement.

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Many professionals have developed a preference for remote work, and others may be anxious about safety, family care and other issues. This can make transitioning back to in-office work tricky. It’s up to leaders to develop a plan that balances company and employee needs as well as to guide their teams through the transition. To help, 11 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their top tips to help leaders return to in-person operations.

1. Determine what work must be done in person.
Review what work requires in-person collaboration and what can be done remotely. When possible, a hybrid model of remote and in-person work will help support a healthy work-life balance in the near future. If work output drops, then create a plan for in-person re-engagement. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Be aware of your team members’ circumstances.
Make your expectations and timelines clear. Some will welcome the return; others will be hesitant. Be mindful of the varied situations and opinions throughout your organization and be thoughtful in how you communicate your plans. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

3. Be flexible and honest.
Listen, and be flexible and honest about what you need your people to do. Let your team know how you are feeling and be honest with them — including the good, the bad and the ugly. Consider what your clients need, what your people need and what the business needs, then provide a safe environment where people are happy to speak up and express what they need to do their job to the best of their ability. – Joanna Swash, Moneypenny

4. Understand people’s personal challenges.
The pandemic has taught business leaders the importance of flexibility. As you welcome employees back to the office, be open and understanding of each employee’s personal challenges and comfort level at work so you can make reasonable accommodations. It’s important that employees feel supported and safe as they readjust, and employers who provide that will be rewarded with happy and loyal employees. – Melea McRae, Crux KC

5. Foster open and clear communication.
Remember your strength lies in the individuals who make up your team. Each member may experience a range of emotions, and these need to be managed sensitively. Foster open and clear communication of expectations. When we began the process of coming back to the office, we met with remote workers in groups of three to four to discuss concerns and next steps and then began to slowly ramp up our return to the workplace. – Scott Young, PennComp Outsourced IT

6. Talk to each team member individually.
Once you get the temperature of the team, make decisions and move forward. In some situations, making accommodations will work; in others, it won’t. Ultimately, you have to do what is best for the business. – David Sprinkle, Veritas Recruiting Group

7. Listen to employees’ fears.
Assure employees that you’ve taken the necessary precautions recommended by the CDC to clean offices and provide spacing. The goal is to get back to normal. If the new normal is remote work, then embrace it. However, I think interaction among employees sparks creativity and friendships and boosts the overall satisfaction of working for a company. – Timothy Haluszczak, SteelBridge Labs

8. Make the transition gradual.
Do not bring on the change all at once — an attempt to get all employees back to the office at the same time might cause disruption and unanticipated challenges. Decide which teams most need to be in the office and proceed with a stepwise process of shifting back. Some employees might be very comfortable working at home, and a sudden change might perplex them. – Alina Clark, CocoDoc

9. Schedule in-person collaborative time for big issues.
If businesses learn nothing else from managing in the face of a pandemic, it’s that face-to-face collaboration can’t be understated. As companies push for employees to return to the office, it’s worth scheduling in-person collaborative time on the big issues. Just as important is allowing people to work a few days a month from home, reducing stress and potentially increasing productivity. – John Palter, Palter Sims Martinez PLLC

10. Be gentle.
We are all in this together, but we aren’t all processing at the same pace. Humans perform best when we are happy. Even if synergy is best in person, a slow and easy pace for re-entry will allow everyone to adapt successfully within their own time horizon. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

11. Take it slow.
The tip that I would offer leaders is to go slowly — don’t try to welcome everyone back into the office full time at once. Select teams to start the transition and slowly get to full capacity. Additionally, ensure that all of the appropriate safety precautions are in place. – Jerry Ramos, Ramos Consulting, LLC

14 bad habits leaders can pass on to their teams

A boss can be a mentor and a good example — or just the opposite. Leaders hold a position of power in a business; their words mean more, their actions speak louder and team members take their direction from what leaders say, both verbally and nonverbally. If a leader is modeling a bad habit for the people who work for them, that bad habit is very likely to spread, causing serious damage to culture, morale and the company.

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As models to their employees, leaders should be aware of how their words and actions translate to those who work for them. Below, 15 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share negative habits bosses may be unconsciously teaching their employees and explain why they’re so damaging.

1. Leading with fear
When a boss leads with fear, not only are they lacking confidence in their own abilities but they are instilling a fear-based culture within their own team. Employees working in a culture of fear are naturally less productive and often leave the company within one to two years. When a leader is stuck in a fear mindset, leadership coaching is a great tool to change behavior. – Lauren Winans, Next Level Benefits

2. Disregarding their own orders
Over the years I have seen a lot of leaders bark orders and expectations only to disregard those orders themselves. I’ve found leading by example is a successful way to be a part of the team and the solution. They’ll see you do it — for example, most employees will be surprised or feel a bit proud that you still take the trash out. – Rob Ihrig, Endicott Coffee

3. Gossiping
Leaders who gossip or talk disparagingly about others are toxic. Negative talk is never productive, and when it comes from someone in a leadership role, it is damaging to the morale of the entire department or company. Negativity is like a snowball: If it gets momentum, it can grow bigger and quickly get out of control. Anything done in a mean-spirited way is never helpful in a business environment. – Jim Lane, Lane Technology Solutions

4. Not being honest
A bad habit I have seen over and over again is leaders not being honest with team members. Many leaders are afraid of providing constructive feedback, which is critical for the growth of the organization and our team members. – Yanet Herrero, Kings Service Solutions, LLC

5. Poor listening
One of the worst habits I have seen leaders struggle with is poor listening. When you fail to listen to your people, it can result in lower productivity and communication lapses. Listening is key to your success as a leader and the well-being of any organization. – Mark Gibbens, Erudite Capital

6. Lack of transparency
Honesty and transparency start at the top! If the boss is willing to share the key details important to the business — along with their struggles professionally and perhaps even personally — employees will then follow with encouragement. An honest and transparent business culture allows obstacles to success to be removed and real issues to be solved before they become insurmountable problems. – Jason Dunn, DACS Asphalt & Concrete

7. Letting ego get in the way
The biggest thing that most leaders struggle with is coachability, which requires that you take candid and honest feedback from your team and look to utilize that feedback to make yourself a better leader. Many leaders’ egos are too big for this, and as a result, people don’t give them honest feedback, which hinders their ability to grow and effectively lead their teams. – Jonathan Keyser, Keyser

8. Subpar communication
Clear communication is key to healthy work and personal relationships. A lack of communication is risky because it can lead to assumptions and cause confusion about expectations in the workplace. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Not taking time off
Leaders who do not take time off can set the impression that this is the expectation of the business. If team members feel like they can never “turn off” it will lead to fatigue, anxiety, poor performance and, eventually, people leaving. Leaders need to set a better example by taking time off or communicating to team members that everyone is encouraged to take a break. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial

10. Living in ‘reaction mode’
Often the whirlwind of the day moves bosses into the moment. Imagine decisions becoming increasingly short-term, ad hoc, task-level responses. One solution is to create an action plan with clear objectives, then use financial and nonfinancial numbers to ensure that your flight plan is on course. – Kirk W. McLaren, Foresight CFO

11. Saying one thing but doing another
“Do as I say, not as I do.” Leading by example requires integrity and commitment, and sometimes this is easier said than done. While it might not be intentional, it is very destructive when a boss says one thing and does another. It gives mixed messages, and employees are left guessing what actions to model. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

12. Trying to mentor a direct report
A supervisor should never be a mentor for someone who reports to them. I see many mentor-mentee relationships that are like that, and it is damaging to the mentee’s growth. This is because the supervisor/mentor can be biased and will likely guide the mentee towards items that benefit both rather than just one. – Jerry Ramos, Ramos Consulting, LLC

13. Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy can be very damaging in one’s relationship with a leader. Don’t expect your employees to put in the time and effort if you aren’t going to do the same. The way you treat and interact with your employees will carry over to how they interact with each other and your client base. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

14. Trying to fix every problem
One of my greatest weaknesses is the desire to fix every problem that is presented. The impact is that some employees may use me as a crutch, which impedes their growth. Another outcome is that I offend the employee who only wants to vent, not have me solve their problems for them. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

15 ways to become a more transparent leader (and better inspire your team)

The role of a leader isn’t simply to drive profit and give orders to subordinates. A strong leader can inspire enthusiasm and loyalty in their teams, driving passion for the company’s product or service.

However, this inspiration can rarely grow in the dark; rather, a leader must make a point of working and communicating with transparency. To help, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 15 concrete steps you can take to become a more transparent leader.

1. Get to know your staff as individuals.
Get to know your staff. Talk to them. Learn about their needs and desires regarding their careers. These are the individuals who are working hard every day to make your company successful. If they feel connected to you, they will usually feel like you are a transparent leader. – Karen Barbee, Renaissance Wellness Services, LLC

2. Share video messages.
During this time of remote work, I’ve added regular “Happy Friday” videos to my communication routine. Seeing my face and hearing my voice with an update on the week and specifics about what is happening has kept the team connected. It has helped to reinforce stability and consistency in a world that has been lacking both this last year. – Jon Schram, The Purple Guys

3. Create a safe space for sharing.
It’s important to create a safe space for employees to share about themselves. I like to share with my team, too, about the coaching and leadership development I’m doing. It’s a way to foster a culture of constant growth and vulnerability. – Jenn Kenning, Align Impact

4. Seek your team’s help with reaching specific goals.
Share your goals and your progress toward them. Succinctly and directly describe the information or help that you seek, and ask if the team can assist. Make sure your team members understand how they connect to your goals. This not only improves transparency but also makes a more direct connection between you and your team. – Matthew Johnston, Design Interactive Inc.

5. Discuss both business issues and personal milestones in regular meetings.
Within our monthly meetings, we very candidly discuss the health of the business. If there are problems, we talk about them during these meetings because it takes everyone to contribute. In these monthly meetings we also feature employee awards, new clients, birthdays and work anniversaries. Additionally, we hold quarterly meetings — we call these vision meetings, and they’re in a Q&A style. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group

6. Hold a debriefing session after major projects.
Gather input from all participants. Celebrate the successes and commit to making changes, if warranted, in the future. I feel that by doing this we all have the closure we need and are ready to tackle the next project that comes along. – Jim Lane, Lane Technology Solutions

7. Admit it when you fail.
From the outside, many corporate leaders seem as if they can do no wrong. Bring in the human emotion. The experience of sharing failure opens the connection between leadership and staff and encourages everyone to always strive for the best, knowing things may not always go to plan. People always see (or assume) success; they rarely get to know about what didn’t go according to plan. – Joseph Princz, Wrecking Ball

8. Share the whole truth.
Some senior management staff can’t seem to let go of the thought that star team members bail at the first indication of trouble. They are wrong. Do you know who actually bails on a struggling company? Star performers who feel misled, lied to or powerless to know what is really going on. Good leaders understand that. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales

9. Let people know who you really are.
There is a lot of talk about being vulnerable, which I translate to people really knowing who you are as a leader. Too often in business, we try to project an image of something we are not — or aren’t yet — and it comes across as either inauthentic or intimidating. If you are open with your employees on what challenges you and the company are facing, they will return the favor in kind. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

10. Share the projects you’re working on.
I and all my team members share all of our projects via a shared document. We all know what each person is accountable for and what projects they’re working on. We are working partly remotely and partly in the office, so we have a 9 a.m. Zoom meeting each weekday. We go down our list of what we are working on to keep everybody in the loop on progress. – Jean-Paul Gedeon, JPG MEDIA

11. Respect your team’s competency and capabilities.
Sharing goals, progress and results with your team will allow them to better support the business’s success. Communication on how projects are progressing, whether verbal or through reports and a dashboard, lets the team know you trust them to move the business forward. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

12. Encourage cross-departmental meetings.
Invite team members from different departments to sit in on one another’s meetings. It showcases what everyone is working on and how their work plays a role in overall company goals. It also alleviates doubts about each other’s competency and shows support for different departments. This kind of interactivity not only creates camaraderie between silos but also eliminates companywide rumors and gossip. – Jeffrey Bartel, Hamptons Group, LLC

13. Discuss yearly or quarterly goals, then report on progress.
Transparency in sharing upfront goals for the year or quarter and reporting back on progress at the end of the timeline shows that the executive team is accountable. Further, it encourages employees to adopt that same behavior. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

14. Never sugarcoat the state of the company.
A step to becoming a more transparent leader is to not have secrets and to not sugarcoat the state of the organization. Keeping your employees informed and aware of your company’s situation will allow them to be well-prepared and not surprised by situations. This will make them more likely to be helpful problem-solvers. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting

15. Share your calendars.
This may seem trivial, but my entire team shares all the details of their calendars with the entire team. We share when we are working out, going to the dentist or getting a manicure — it’s important for my team to see me as a real human and to see each other as spouses, friends and mothers. I expect my team to take care of themselves, and I lead by example. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

16 business leaders on overcoming their ‘scariest’ leadership challenge

Every career comes with highs and lows, but when one is in a leadership position, the lows can seem especially daunting. After all, you have a team of people depending on you and turning to you for guidance; it can be hard to admit you’re going through a rough patch — and that you’re scared.

Business Journals

Part of running a business is overcoming such obstacles to grow your company and improve your leadership skills. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in these struggles. Below, 16 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share the “scariest” business situation they’ve ever faced and how they successfully navigated it.

1. The 2008 recession
Not long after I purchased LAN Systems in 2008, the Great Recession hit. Later in the year, the stock market plummeted and we experienced the worst recession of my lifetime. My goals for modernizing the company were greatly delayed. How did LAN weather the storm? In a word, tenacity. I knew the plan was sound, and I worked it each day with changes that reflected the tough times. – Mary Hester, LAN Systems

2. The 2013 federal government shutdown
In 2013, the federal government shut down. Many IT consultants were trying to preserve income from traditional sources, too. But we knew if we were going to survive, we’d have to be cloud-forward. So, we shifted to Office 365 early while others stayed focused on Enterprise SharePoint. The result: We’re ahead of other firms in our industry and are offering better support models and prices. – Thomas Carpe, Liquid Mercury Solutions

3. Losing my corporate job
The 2008 downturn produced job cuts and my first experience with job loss. I turned fear into opportunity by identifying areas where I could provide critical services at a fraction of my salary while also using my skills to help other businesses. I presented my employer with a solution to help us both, which became the cornerstone of launching my business. – Robert Wolf, CREIS, LLC

4. Deciding whether to file for bankruptcy
There was a point where filing for bankruptcy was an option on the table. Weathering the storm is an experience that hones a leader, but to navigate it successfully, you must be willing to make the difficult decisions and always keep a positive mindset. But the most important thing of all is to never stop hustling. You have the power to change your position and successfully overcome your situation. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting

5. Losing our biggest client
We lost our largest client. We had to cut salaries and execute layoffs for the first time in my company’s history. We rebounded by networking and redoubling our efforts in new business while working hard to keep our current clients happy. It took hard work — the usual answer to many of the challenges that life can throw at you! – Carter Keith, 31,000 FT.

6. Launching a software company with no funding
Years back I risked everything and started to build software, as opposed to running a service company. I had no large seed funds, no friends and family help, and definitely no investors — just me. Despite everything, I came out strong and never looked back. It has allowed us to scale internationally and compete against giant companies. A leap of faith is all it takes. You never know if you might just make it. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

7. My business partner backing out
My entrepreneurial journey started off very rough, with my business partner backing out less than a week into our new venture. The original strategy had to be thrown out and a new plan had to be formulated — very quickly. When you are facing challenges and can’t see your way forward, take a break, ask for directions and plot a new course. Your tenacity and persistence will pay off. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

8. Periods of uncertain sales and revenue
All businesses are based on continuous sales and revenue, but these numbers continuously fluctuate. This uncertainty is a constant challenge any business faces. Adjusting operations according to various levels of business ensures you are nimble and prepared for anything that comes your way without waiting until it’s too late to take action. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Growing the team for a client that later liquidated
We expanded our team for a new major client. We didn’t realize they were so emphatic about headcount because they were on their way to liquidation 18 months later. We found ourselves outsized for our income. However, our pipeline is very long, so we were reluctant to abruptly right-size. We cut costs, kept everyone we’d hired but didn’t replace folks who left, and grew sales enough pre-Covid-19 to expand our team again. – Billy Hodges, Digital Filaments

10. Relocating right after starting out
Honestly, the scariest thing is starting out. I started right when the market tanked and I thought it might be the end, but I made the crucial decision to move my operation to Kansas City. Looking back now, it was the perfect decision. Kansas City is a big construction city, and that was right in our wheelhouse. Make sure that you adapt to the market — don’t stagnate. – Brandy McCombs, IBC

11. Losing face-time with customers due to an accident
I had a skiing accident and was out of the office for four months. I was not able to be in front of customers, which affected sales as well as some of the contracts we already had. We were very dependent on one customer, which we lost. We got better at working remotely and made sure no customer comprised more than 15% of the business. We kept going, but we no longer depend on just one customer or one person. – Sergio Retamal, Global4PL

12. Not being able to make payroll
When you have people relying on your dream for their livelihood, it requires you to improve your billing procedures, engage clients who aren’t paying on time and reexamine your contracting and billing processes. Most of the time these strategies have worked, but I’ve also had to dip into personal finances when in a pinch to make sure our team is taken care of first. – Liz Wooten-Reschke, Connect For More

13. Eliminating a business partner
The scariest situation I ever faced was eliminating part of a partnership. We were faced with a bad economy and a partner that was not aligned. Several of us discussed it, and a decision was made. To this day, I regret not discussing it openly with everyone involved. I’ve repaired the affected friendships and we all came to agreeable terms, but I still kick myself for the way I handled it. – Brent Foley, TRIAD Architects

14. Facing a temporary shutdown
In April of this year, we were forced to pause our operations due to the coronavirus. This was devastating for our employees, most of whom are hourly workers. We chose to put our people first and continued to pay them a portion of their usual average pay. By caring for those who care for our business, we helped them through a scary time and got back up and running faster the following month. – Aric Burke, Atlas Healthcare Partners

15. The shrinking Covid-19 economy
In February 2020, my company was poised to double in size over the course of the year. When Covid-19 struck, my company was faced with the big threat of the economy shrinking and our clients losing business. We handled the situation well mostly because we had prepared for a 2020 recession 12 months prior. We made sure we had cash available, operated very lean and focused on helping our existing clients navigate the pandemic. – Sanjay Jupudi, Qentelli

16. Taking that first step
My scariest situation was simply getting started and taking that first step in creating positive momentum. When you start a new business in the highly competitive health care field, you need to establish contacts and obtain business quickly, because you have responsibilities that go beyond yourself. That can be paralyzing, but persistence and a positive attitude are the keys to success. – Phil Gibson, CatylystOne

Leaders: Conquer stress with these 15 strategies

As a leader, you’re constantly juggling multiple responsibilities and significant demands on your time. Overtime hours, countless meetings and a long list of deliverables can all take their toll on you — and this doesn’t even include any personal stressors that may arise.

The Business Journals

Managing multiple work and personal responsibilities can be incredibly taxing, so you’ll need to take extra steps to take care of yourself and keep your headspace clear. Here, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 15 strategies to prevent major life stressors from overtaking your mind.

1. Set aside ‘distraction-free’ time in your day.
It is important to set aside time in your day with no distractions so you can dive into important projects. Once you clear your mind and your plate of these important tasks, it leaves room to tackle the day-to-day and allows you space to leave your work at the office (whether physical or virtual) so you can be present in your personal interactions as well. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Pinpoint the problem and think through the worst-case scenario.
To paraphrase a passage from Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, ask yourself: What is the actual problem or stressor? Then, determine the worst-case scenario and accept that as a possible outcome. Maybe a client relationship is at risk or a monetary impact looms — OK, acceptance. Start immediately taking steps to improve the outcome. Write it down. – Stephen Maher, MJM ARCHITECTS, LLC

3. Practice gratitude.
Before I begin my workday, I practice gratitude. With my coffee in hand, I write down the first five to 10 things that come to mind that I am thankful for. They can be as small as the sound of the waves crashing outside my window or the taste of that first spring strawberry. The small act of appreciating the things in my life creates a positive space for the day that combats everyday stress. – Andrea Heuston, Artitudes Design Inc.

4. Seek mentors.
Meditation, reading and yoga are all great, but finding someone who has been there before and talking through stresses you are going through is invaluable. Have different mentors for different topics in your life. Being able to soak up the wisdom from a person who has experienced the same type of stress you are feeling will shorten the time of stress and lead to faster solutions. – Lane Conner, Fuzse

5. Exercise daily.
I find that if I do not exercise every day, then stress creeps in. Exercise doesn’t just help reduce my stress — often I come up with a potential solution to my problem during the workout. – Bob Rauf, Meridian Financial

6. Determine whether it’s something you can control.
Have an honest conversation with yourself on whether this is something you can actually control or not. If it is, get focused and grind it out. If it’s not, be willing to accept that and let go of the outcome. If you can spend your day making a positive impact on multiple things, that’s a great mental balance with the stress of the things you can’t control. – Chris Hogan, Benefit Commerce Group, an Alera Group Company

7. Find a balance of work and personal activity that’s best for you.
I allow myself to take work home and to do personal things during what is typically considered the “workday.” This helps me to avoid mental fatigue and stress through a variety of tasks and actions to keep my mind sharp and productive. – Rhiannon Samuel, Viante New Mexico

8. Lean on others.
In times of stress, lean on others. Great leaders build an organization on the shoulders of others. Sometimes we forget that we are only successful because of the skills and abilities of others. When stress occurs, some tend to absorb the pressure rather than to spread it among the very people most able to weather the storm. Share the burdens, but also share the joy of success. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing

9. Pursue non-work passions.
Find a hobby, activity or interest that you are proximally passionate about. It is indeed just a method of distracting the mind, but if attractive enough, it breaks the focus of thought. If you give the mind a break, it usually comes back to the stress point with a less “consumed” perspective and perhaps even a way of tackling whatever is causing the stress. – Michael Sluka, B2B CFO Partners

10. Find your ‘zen.’
Find your “zen,” which isn’t limited to a meditation app or yoga. My zen hours happen twice a day. The first is between 4 and 6 a.m. This is when I catch up on news, do a crossword puzzle and spend time reading and writing. Then, from 4 to 6 p.m., it happens again, first with a bike ride and then cooking and eating dinner with my family. Prioritize your “zen times” and you’ll be amazed at all you get done. – Sam Davidson, Batch

11. Prioritize self-care.
It’s easy to keep working and try to push through the stressor, but that only increases your stress. It is important to take good care of yourself and manage the demands at work. If there are too many projects or demands, then you need to prioritize and focus on the top of the list. When the stressors come that are unavoidable, taking care of yourself will ensure you have the energy to persevere. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

12. Find a trusted mental health professional.
I firmly believe everyone should have a mental health professional as part of their health care team. I reached out to a psychologist during an extremely stressful time. My sessions allowed me to focus both professionally and personally. I was able to successfully navigate the challenges beyond my expectations. It might take a couple of tries to find the provider who’s right for you. Don’t give up. – Shannon Laine, HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis

13. Put every activity into your calendar.
When managing time, we like to say, “Intention becomes action when it is put into Outlook.” If you don’t plan and schedule your time, the day-to-day firefighting will keep you from tracking down the arsonist. Put the time you need for each project, including personal time, into your calendar. – Paul Herring, 101 Solutions LLC

14. Take time to disconnect.
Delivering strong performance is heavily influenced by what professionals do outside of work. It’s important to take time outside of work to occasionally disconnect, reflect and get ready to jump back into projects refreshed. The best ideas will often result from taking a step back and reevaluating the situation from a fresh perspective. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching

15. Locate your ‘lighthouse.’
You have to have a “lighthouse” that serves as your point of reference. That lighthouse can be a spouse, religion, a mentor, friend, etc. In this age of disappearing work boundaries, electronics that never shut off and 24/7 availability, you have to learn to establish your own boundaries driven by your personal values. Our lighthouses serve to help us stay focused on what matters. – Adam Boudreaux, The Leadership Group LLC