A picture of me, Hannah Paskin, a Therapist. I am wearing a green dress with white spots, sat on my therapy sofa. There is the words straight-talking therapist for professionals on the image

Therapy for Business Owners

Providing Therapy for Business Owners is one of my specialties. In this blog I will cover the 7 most common reasons that business owners come to therapy.

Running a business is a rollercoaster. It has some great advantages, but it also has it’s own set of difficult challenges that no other job entails. One of the most important elements in running a successful business is our mindset. That’s why an increasing number of business owners are seeking out the benefit of a therapist or business coach.

There’s often a common false perception that in order to go to therapy we need to be unwell. However CBT is just as effective at helping high functioning people. Business Owners are one of my main client groups, and there’s some problems I explore in therapy that come up time and time again.

1. Imposter Syndrome

How we think of ourselves can have zero connection to the reality. This is very much the case with imposter syndrome. Interestingly the research shows us that the more someone succeeds the more the feelings of being an imposter grow. The more like an imposter we feel, the less confident we become in our abilities and choices. The impact of this is typically overcompensating or avoidance. We tend to overcompensate when we feel like we are not good enough – this could be offering extra time or services to clients without charging, going unnecessarily above and beyond to meet a customers’ needs, or over-explaining or justifying ourselves. Avoidance can be not taking on jobs, not putting ourselves forwards, struggling to sell or promote ourselves all because of self-doubt which can be really harmful to business growth.

2. Work to life imbalance

Burnout is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon. The difficulty in running a business is that there is always more you can be doing to develop your business, always more hours you could work. Lots of business owners I work with don’t take sufficient annual leave, rarely take lunch breaks, and often continue working in evenings and weekends. I think we all know that when setting up a business and at points of development extra hours will be needed. However, the hours we work have to be maintainable without our health and personal life suffering. After all most of us set up our own business for the perks right? One of those surely is a good work/life balance.

3. Difficulty letting go of control

Transitioning from a 1-person business to having employees can be really difficult. Lots of business owners have control tendencies, they like to know everything, be involved with everything, oversee everything. But the more employees you get, the more your role changes from the doing, to the bigger picture stuff. Letting go of this control can be anxiety provoking. I often hear “but I know I can do it better” which although may be true, isn’t a sustainable way to run a business. It can also create problematic relationships with employees if they feel they are being micro-managed, which can lead to dissatisfied staff, poor staff retention etc – not what any business wants.

4. Perfectionism

Ah, good old perfectionism, the pursuit of what is not humanly possible. Perfectionism isn’t just about having high standards or self-expectation, it’s about the relentless pursuit of something that will always be out of reach no matter how hard we try. There’s 2 major impacts of being a perfectionist as a business owner – taking too long to do something, or procrastinating doing it at all. As the old adage says, time is money. The more time we spend on something, the more it should cost the customer for the higher quality, or the more it will end up costing us in profits. A concept frequently explored in therapy is when do you decide something is done, or when is something good enough. The flip side of perfectionism is procrastination. When we want something to be perfect, it can feel overwhelming to even start. Therefore, tasks that are really important to the development of the business don’t get done when they need to be when procrastination kicks in.

5. Excessive worrying

Some worry as a business owner is necessary to avoid being reckless or making poor decisions. However, many people struggle with worrying excessively about what could be, the hypothetical scenarios. Business owners tend to be good at thinking things through and problem solving. This can be a really valuable skill at times. But when you are constantly thinking about “what if ….” for a never-ending amount of situations, with a never-ending amount of possible outcomes, most of which will never happen, that can be come really exhausting and paralysing. A major impact of excessive worry is finding it difficult to make decisions. You might be searching for certainty or clarity (that might not exist), you may find yourself excessively researching, seeking reassurance from others, putting things off when you’re unsure what the ‘right’ choice is. With decision making being an everyday part of business, the difficulty in being able to do this because of worry is significant.

6. Poor Boundaries

All business owners want to do a good job. All business owners want their customers to be happy with their product or experience. But there will always be jobs or customers that are not a good fit for us, expectations that we can’t meet, employees who are not doing the job we need them to.
Good boundaries are essential to a well-functioning business. We need to be able to turn work away, to push back with customers at times, to deal with problem staff.
Lots of things can make it difficult for a person to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. This could be that there’s excessive self-blame, taking on responsibility for things that aren’t ours, feeling guilt, struggling with confrontation, being uncomfortable with others being unhappy with us or not liking us, a lack of confidence in ourselves, and many other reasons.

7. Difficulty relaxing, switching off, and sleeping

All of the issues I have covered above can lead to problems with relaxing, switching off and sleeping. If our brain is thinking too much, whether that is criticising ourselves, worrying, or something else, then a peaceful calm state is very hard to achieve.
These physical symptoms are often one of the reasons that individuals eventually reach out for help – they are just exhausted, they’re battling insomnia, and they’re just not enjoying life. All these symptoms are a result of our state of mind, the very thing that therapy works on by covering some of the other 6 problems listed above. There is also work done directly to target poor sleep habits and the inability to sit still.

How does therapy for business owners help?

Investing in your mind is a great investment not just in your business but for your life as a whole. Although lots of business owners come to me because their business is starting to suffer, the work we do also helps with relationships and with life and happiness overall.
All the areas above are common problems with high functioning individuals. Therapy is very much an education driven approach. CBT Therapy can help you understand why you’re experiencing the problems you are, as well as learn scientifically proven strategies to overcome these challenges.
As a therapist I also offer straight talking advice, this can really help with understanding what got you stuck, and how you can avoid the pattern repeating. I spent years training to understand the human mind, my job is to give you the knowledge I have as it applies to you.

Imagine what your personal and professional life would be like if you the 7 issues above were no longer a problem for you? Therapy is about giving you that freedom.

Psychotherapy versus Business Coaching

If you’re a business owner experiencing challenges, you might think that seeing a business coach is the obvious solution. It certainly can be helpful, and business coaching can really help motivate us in pushing forwards with business goals. But what if the barrier to our success is rooted in anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or other emotional issues? That’s when seeing a psychotherapist makes much more sense.
A business coach might help you with efficiency in your business, in improving systems and the the customer experience. A therapist will work with you as a whole, not just you as a business owner.

Therapy with Hannah

I am an experienced Cheshire Psychotherapist, specialising in working with Business Owners and Busy Professionals.
To book your first therapy session, head to my online booking system: www.hannahpaskintherapy.co.uk/book-now/

Free consultation call available.

Other useful blogs:

Understanding Burnout | Hannah Paskin (hannahpaskintherapy.co.uk)

Perfectionism: How Can it Manifest? | Hannah Paskin (hannahpaskintherapy.co.uk)

Living With High Functioning Anxiety or Depression | Hannah Paskin (hannahpaskintherapy.co.uk)

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