Relaxation Techniques

When a stress-generating event occurs, such as a lull in profitability, an order that's gone astray, or the resignation of your top performer etc. etc., we all know about the burgeoning anxiety that can cut across our business day. Then someone says, 'Just relax'!

Well, hello? ..........................

Actually, having a few relaxation techniques in our tool kit is a very useful thing and, of course, there are many. One of the key strategies on offer for whenever you're feeling particularly frazzled, scattered, and out of balance is simply to concentrate on breathing techniques. Like an anchor in the midst of a stormy sea, breath awareness is a balancing force for the mind, anchoring you in the present time.

When under stress, most of us tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths, primarily by expanding our chests. This thoracic breathing is not the most efficient way to breathe. Not only does it prevent the lungs from filling and emptying completely, it can also contribute to increased muscle tension. During stressful situations, it is especially important that we breathe from our abdomen, not just our chest. Abdominal breathing relaxes the muscles, massages the internal organs, and allows more oxygen to energise our system.

The ideal times to practice this breathing relaxation technique is when you are feeling tense or anxious or in need of energising your body or calming your mind. Just a few of these complete breaths are wonderfully calming and won't be noticed during a meeting or a phone call. This simple procedure is very effective:

1. Sit comfortably with your spine straight.

2. Exhale completely.

3. Inhale very slowly, allowing the breath to enter effortlessly through your nose. At the same time push out your abdomen as though it were a balloon expanding. Move your chest as little as possible.

4. After your abdomen is stretched, allow your chest to expand with air. This fills the middle part of your lungs.

5. Allow your abdomen to pull in slightly, and your shoulders and collarbones to rise. This fills the upper part of your lungs.

6. Gently hold your breath for a few seconds. At this point, every part of your lungs is filled.

7. Slowly begin to exhale through your nose. Breathe abdominally by lifting your diaphragm and allowing your lungs to empty. Proper exhalation releases used air and opens space for fresh air to enter.

Though at first this way of breathing may feel awkward, once you become familiar with this it, it can be done quite easily and comfortably. Try this link for more tips on the subject.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director

Offset some of the stress and strain of running a small business with a healthy diet

In recent blogs we spoke about the importance of establishing good sleeping and exercise routines to help offset some of the stress and strain of our business lives. To complete this 'good habit' cycle, it's time to give a few simple tips on diet.


1. Bread, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles (include wholegrain varieties) 
N.B. Eat from this group in moderation if trying to lose weight!
2. Vegetables (include 5 serves a day)
3. Fruit (include 2 serves a day)
4. Milk, yoghurt, cheese (choose low fat dairy products)
5. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs and nuts.

It is also important to drink 6 – 8 glasses of water each day. Where possible, avoid soft drinks or high energy drinks including fruit juices – avoid sugar wherever possible.

Caffeinated drinks need to be kept to a minimum and alcohol avoided.

Here is a link to the government website, Eat for Health, for more detailed information on healthy eating.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director


The Value of Exercise When Anxious About the State of Your Small Business

There can be any number of signs that you are anxious about the state of your business, such as:

  • Withdrawing and stopping going out
  • Feeling overwhelmed, guilty and lacking confidence
  • Relying on alcohol or sedatives 
  • Just not getting things done!

Increased fitness can lift the mood. More to the point, an exercise regime is a helpful way to block negative thoughts, provide a distraction from daily worries, increase energy levels and, when mixing it with others, make people feel less alone.

Biologically speaking, exercise can increase levels of helpful neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) that may have diminished due to depression and anxiety. It can increase the endorphins which are the 'mood-lifting' chemicals in our brains.

So, where to start? 

  • Rule no. 1 : make it simple;
  • An hour's circuit training at the gym or 50 laps of the pool may be great for you but it doesn't necessarily have to be that strenuous a workout.  If you're not that way inclined, try walking, bike riding, gardening or just commit to a household maintenance routine.
  • Importantly, do what you find enjoyable (not what others may want you to do!) but, where possible, it's good to include other people and make it a group activity.
  • Make a workable plan but ensure it has sufficient flexibility so that it does not cause added stress to the distress that you may be already experiencing. 

There are a number of websites offering more detailed tips especially if we treat exercise as medicine.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director

When Running a Business You Need Sleep Discipline

When running a business, it's good to be disciplined around sleep, diet and exercise. This enables us to manage, not just the daily highs, lows, stresses and strains of our business, but helps create a buffer against the onset of more serious matters like anxiety and depression.

This week, let's look at a few tips regarding sleep: 
• Try to get out of bed as soon as you wake. Don’t go back to sleep or try to make up for ‘lost sleep’.
• Get outside during daylight hours for both the fresh air and the daylight. Responsibly spending time in sunlight helps stabilise our body’s sleep and wake cycles.
• If you are worrying about something during the night, set aside some time for problem-solving during the day; write your problems down.
• Avoid caffeine after 4pm and try not to drink more than two cups of caffeine-type drinks each day, e.g. coffee, tea, cola or energy drinks.
• Avoid taking alcohol to help with sleep.
• Make the bedroom quiet, dim and cool. Avoid all technology and distraction, e.g. TV, phone, I-Pad.
• Avoid too many blankets and electric blankets. If you’re too hot, you won’t go into a ‘deep sleep’.

There are many websites to chose from offering help and advice on the subject of sleep. Reinforcing some of the above tips, try this one on sleep education by the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director


Pitfalls Of Running My Own Business & How I Overcame Them

I have been running my own small consultancy business for the past 17 years and it has certainly not been all plain sailing.  

In the early days, I got a bit carried away when I saw my bank account growing with what seemed like a nice flow of income (certainly more than in my days of being employed by somebody else!). As good as it seemed, it didn't measure up well against my spending patterns. It was only after a few months that I realised my cash flow was weak and debts were starting to pile up. I had to kick myself as, in a previous life, I'd worked in the risk management space. I clearly wasn't practicing what I once preached, namely to control your business within a sphere of both current and projected business trends'.

I needed a plan. Nothing complex, just a simple budget that plotted what my expected income would look like over the next 12 months, particularly highlighting those months where the jobs are likely to be limited, such as over the Christmas period. Once I'd done that, I needed to look at my expenses on a month by month basis. There would be the regular things like rent, utilities, phones and certain consumables. Then there would be the items that might hit you just once or twice a year such as vehicle registration and maintenance, bulk supplies of materials etc. Finally I had to preserve monies for GST and other tax liabilities. I found that a simple budget gave me:

  • A disciplined framework in which to manage my business 
  • A 'helicopter view' as to both its present and future viability
  • A better understanding of where my priorities should be, the opportunities available and even jobs that I should try and avoid!'

My experience is not unusual and I thoroughly recommend that, if small businesses are not working with a proper budget, they should do so immediately! 

There are many suggested approaches available and a good starting point is by applying some of the tools on offer by the Dept. of Industry.

Ted Beecher
BLA Director



Lack of Work Life Balance...A Key Reason for Small Business Failure

With 97 percent of all businesses in Australia being classed as 'small', according to the most recent survey undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within their first three years of starting.

One of the reasons is the inability to maintain good work-life balance. According to a study by insurance provider, Simply Business, half of those surveyed cancel social plans at least once a week, 25% take less than 10 days annual leave and that same percentage have fallen ill due to stress and overwork. In saying that one in four people experience mental illness each year, Mind, an NDIS mental health specialist, maintains that it is imperative that business owners keep a close eye on their wellbeing.

Business Life Australia
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How BLA helped Arnel

Life was in a state of confusion and he felt like his world had come crashing down. This was  the sad day he had to shut the doors on his automotive business which he had put so much into over the years . Arnel can relate how exhausted he felt knowing that the whole family, particularly his wife who was also a director of their company,  were affected. Compounding things was the fact that their daughter had health problems at the time. 

Arnel  got on to Business Life Australia. He speaks of how they were able to be there for him by, at first, simply listening attentively to the his story. From then on he says they were able to bring hope to what he thought was a hopeless situation .  Arnel speaks of the value of just being able to talk to someone who is independent and in no way judgemental. This was despite the fact that the options appeared to be  very limited based on the state of the business and the amount of debt owing at the time. Under BLA's guidance Arnel completed a review of the business, its budget and what, if any, opportunities lie ahead for the future. He soon concluded that there was little chance of turning the business around and that insolvency was probably the only answer. Indeed this turned out to be precisely the case.

Arnel says 'You are always thinking about it and it's always preying on your mind.  However, once you start forgiving yourself as well others, things gradually start to get better. This becomes no more obvious than when you rebuild your relationship with your wife and your family. It's then that you feel you're truly getting your life back together again'.

With life as business owners now well behind them and once the formalities of closure were completed, both Arnel and his wife secured good jobs with other employers.  Arnel's experience and respected  standing in the motor industry clearly made this possible.  As a couple, they sat down and established some long term goals such as eventually getting into the real estate market. However, in the meantime, they made a decision to enjoy the many things they had not done before such as taking a holiday!

'This is not the end as it can turn around even though it seems like the end at the time', says Arnel. 'Just talk to the right people who can give you guidance based on their knowledge and experience and watch your life return to something truly beautiful!'

We can help you...
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Business Is Personal

Is there always joy in managing a small business?

Of course, because this is my ticket to FREEDOM after being answerable to a boss for the first 15 years of my working life.  Now it's 'little old me' running my own race, managing my own show, controlling my wealth, my team, my future, my everything!

And then it becomes so positively personal  with the family sharing that joy............ 

How good Helen feels when she has coffee with the girls every Thursday. All those 'by the way', moments': the upcoming ski trip with the kids, the ever-meticulous  dressmaker over at Double Bay , Christmas in New York!  She can't wait until someone asks about private school. The kids are loving it!  All those modern sporting facilities, the gym, the Olympic pool, acres of fields. True, Aiden is struggling with his maths but, never fear, Mr. Morgan has all the best resources at hand to quickly get him up to scratch. Oh yes, another 'BTW' moment: last weekend's sleepover at the McCarthy's waterfront mansion. (David McCarthy, of course, runs the United South Pacific Bank).

Then there's me - I love being busy, watching things grow and the money rolling in.  More customers, more staff and larger premises! 

Can just fit in lunch with the accountant today. She's great but did warn me last year about the shoebox full of invoices and bills saying I should hire a good book keeper to do them monthly. Still, you'd expect her to say that. Accountants always do err on the cautious side.

Actually, I've got three shoe boxes this year. That's surely a good sign as to where the business is going. Mind you most of that was for the first three months before I lost '5-Ways'; they made up for about 25% of our turnover. Never mind, they say you shouldn't have all your eggs in one basket.

The lull will give us time to focus on the 'UPs"; like step up our marketing, beef up the website, unclutter and tidy up the stock. Then, up the loan (so easy for the bank with the house as guarantee). 

Now we can all take a deep breath especially as it's almost  Christmas when, thankfully, the business goes dead quiet. That's ok, a return to the good times might be delayed a bit. In the meantime, let's celebrate !!  

And, boy, did we! A great family Christmas with no expense spared followed by the cruise. We certainly deserved it after all the work we'd put in.

It's now February..... the bills have accumulated. Not enough in reserve and only just enough income flowing in from the regulars to pay the staff wages (well, at least this month). As for the bank loan? Funny how I quickly take my eyes off the house when I leave for work and come home at night. 

Mmm, Judging by the amount of sleep I'm getting and the blank looks from Helen, I quickly realise how personal business really is. Even the kids have gone quiet. Suddenly I'm nervous about answering the phone. Who do I pay first? Why am I avoiding people? Maybe I should see the doctor and get some anti-depressants. Alternatively, the cellar is still fairly well stocked from the Christmas splurge...

Sound familiar? If so, we need to talk...
1800 041 218