How to run a business when you're sad

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When my dog Wilma was first diagnosed with cancer, my heart sunk so deep into my stomach I thought it would never return.

I had built a business model that meant I was surrounded by dogs. I drew dogs, posted photos of dogs, discussed dogs with customers & wrote about owning a dog. Working acted as a constant reminder.

Running my business felt painful. For the first time in years I had lost all motivation; but as a one-woman-band, there was no one to pick up the slack. So how do you continue to run a business when your energy and your mood is so low?

I found a few ways to work whilst feeling sad...

1. Tell your customers/clients

One of the main incentives of shopping with small businesses is the personal experience. Customers want to buy from people. So showing a little vulnerability and proving that you're only human could benefit your business. That emotional connection is something consumers are actually looking for.

2. Cut yourself some slack

Evaluate how you feel each day and choose which tasks you think are manageable. Take each day as it comes.

When feeling well I often plan my week in advance, work 8-5 and power through my to-do list. But as my mindset changed, I noticed my focus wavered and working in this way felt near impossible.

Take a slower pace. If you catch yourself staring into the distance.. stop; go for a walk or treat yourself to a nap. Your emotions might not be so raw when you return to work later in the evening.

3.  Change the scenery

Working in solitude whilst feeling low seems to only accentuate the sadness; being alone with your negative thoughts is never healthy.

I found company comforting. Try working in communal areas like the lounge, or take your laptop to cafes to surround yourself with people and immerse yourself in normality. 


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Helen Penny

About the Author

Helen Penny is an illustrator, maker & pug owner from Bournemouth, UK

She is interested in petting dogs & exploring the impact they have on society

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