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Business Owner Disorder: The Side of Business Ownership We Don’t Talk About

Recently, I noticed a distinct pattern in my monthly routine as a business owner. It’s the part of the being a business owner that we don’t normally discuss because it’s not nearly as glamorous. However, I think that it’s an area that deserves recognition. Each month, there are distinct periods where I feel higher levels of stress and changes in my mood. I was still able to complete my daily task of providing the highest levels of professional service but I can definitively see a change. After experiencing these symptoms for a while, I’ve decided to formally name it, “Business Owner Disorder” (“BOD”). I’m not a “real” doctor nor have I ever played one on TV but I’m certain this is a real thing.

So, what is BOD? If you’re a business owner, you already know what BOD is without me explaining but for those not as familiar with that lifestyle then let me describe it. BOD is a disorder commonly associated with individuals who may not have a steady 9-5 type of lifestyle. BODers, as they are commonly referred, are usually those who are constantly focused on building their idea into reality. The symptoms of BOD do not present themselves in the same way for each BODer. However, common symptoms include but are not limited to decreased sleep, decreased appetite, and a brain consistently unwilling to shut down (too many good ideas). Although, not a formal medical or psychological disorder, it’s important to note that these types of symptoms can be associated with medical or psychological disorders and therefore it’s important to seek professional assistance if necessary.

At first, I thought that BOD would only appear when business was not going well or I encountered an unexpected result. However, what I’ve found is that BOD can present itself even when things are going extremely well. In fact, I’m up over 200% year-over-year and am just coming out of my monthly BOD. I used to want to believe that it was just something that happened or that maybe something wrong with me. This might be true as the jury is still out (I had to get one lawyer joke in this article). However, what I’ve found is that when I’m struggling with BOD I now use that as motivation to get that next win, land that new client, or make a difference in someone’s life.

Next to being a good parent, being a business owner is the hardest, most stressful job there is. Somedays you don’t know when that next opportunity may come but every day you put your head down to ensure that there will be one. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out to the world and say “look I have a solution to a problem you’re facing, let me show you.” If you’re a business owner and experiencing symptoms of BOD, please know that you are not alone. There are business owners just like you with similar experiences.

Here are my recommendations for success:

1)      Talk to individuals, you trust, about your experiences. If you can’t find them, then create them. Last year, I did just that by surrounding myself with a group of business owners who were not interested in creating “referrals” but genuinely interested in developing relationships. Sometimes we vent and sometimes we share our love/hate feels towards business ownership but each time we create stronger relationships.

2)      Share your experiences. Sometimes we project only our best selves by only sharing our wins but by not sharing our losses we don’t create the perfect picture of who we truly are. I’ve learned some of my best lessons from falling flat on my face, dusting myself off, and going back at it again.