Dealing With Owner Fatigue

Running a business is a big honor, but it’s also a big undertaking. Follow these six suggestions to stay motivated and keep everything running smoothly even during times of stress and fatigue.


As a small business owner, I understand how stressful and tiring it can be to shoulder all the responsibilities and the challenges that come with owning and running a business. I also know how important it is to find a pace that works for you while the business goes thru the up and down cycles that are inevitable in building a successful business. It is very important to stay grounded in order not to make rash decisions that could negatively affect or even close the business down entirely.

While you may feel like you have no personal time or family time and often feel like you are frayed to the bone, there are ways to help you beat the entrepreneurial fatigue. Here are some suggestions:

Fight fatigue suggestion no. 1: Find a support system. This can be as simple as hiring an assistant or even recruiting a family member to help you.

Fight fatigue suggestion no. 2: Learn to delegate. You don’t have to do it all yourself. If you have an assistant or an employee that is competent and whom you trust, let them help with basic tasks. As you become more comfortable, you can always increase their responsibilities.

Fight fatigue suggestion no. 3: Join small business or community organizations. Organizations such as COSE can help you share your experiences and get advice when needed. These are valuable resources that you should use.

Fight fatigue suggestion no. 4: Find a professional friend or even a mentor. Having someone to talk to, especially if they have had similar experiences, is very helpful. Sometimes it just takes knowing that what you are experiencing is normal and things will get better.

Fight fatigue suggestion no. 5: Take some time for yourself. Whether you take a day or even a few hours off from work, personal time is very important for your mental, physical and emotional health. This means different things to everyone but could include a day off for things such as golf or tennis, watching a movie, getting a massage or attending a yoga class. It can be anything that will help you to unwind. Doing this may be hard for you since you feel like you should be working, but remember that everyone needs personal time. It will give you a fresh perspective and help you to relax and destress.

Fight fatigue suggestion no. 6: Nourish yourself. Take care to eat well and to get rest. This goes a very long way to helping you deal with stress.

Running a small business is a stressful situation but with a little self-care, you can stay energized and positive resulting in a more productive outcome.

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at



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  • Next up: Define Your Business: 4 Key Resources to Know

    Define Your Business: 4 Key Resources to Know

    What spot does your business occupy in your customer’s mind? Are they thinking of you the way you think they’re thinking of you?

    What spot does your business occupy in your customer’s mind? Are they thinking of you the way you think they’re thinking of you?

    Those are important questions. Here are four resources to help you come up with the answers.


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  • Next up: Delegate Your Way to Success

    Delegate Your Way to Success

    I’ve been teaching a unit on delegation in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program for the past five years. The obvious conclusion is that entrepreneurs like you can benefit a lot from effective delegation and so can the staff picking up those delegated tasks.

    So, let’s get your hands around the art and science of delegation with the summary of answers to three of the discussion questions from that class.

    Question 1: Why don’t entrepreneurs and small business owners delegate?

    Lots of reasons and they all seem logical at the time:

    •  No one can do it better, faster, cheaper or smarter than you can, so why bother delegating?
    • It takes more time to delegate the task than to do it yourself.
    • If you want it done right or right now, then do it yourself.
    • No one to delegate to—you don’t have competent people or those you can trust enough.
    • You don’t want to give up power or authority.
    • You like doing the task—it’s fun, or at least enjoyable. It makes you feel good and compensates a little for all the things you have to do that you don’t like.
    • And a major reason most people won’t admit—you don’t know how to delegate.

    Question 2: So, why should you delegate more often?

    What are the benefits of delegating? Glad you asked! Consider:

    • If you spend too much time working in your businesses, you can’t be spending enough time working on your businesses. And that’s where real innovation, growth and improvements come from.
    • If you’re doing too much, you’re too involved in the daily operations and the business can’t survive without you. Therefore, you can’t sell it or leave it to your kids.
    • Owners can’t do everything equally well. You should spend most of your time on the most important tasks of running the business, like visioning, planning, customer relationship building and being the face of the business. The other tasks can and should be delegated in part or in whole.
    • Delegation is a great way to develop skills on your bench and give junior level staff a change of pace and focus. And some of them will likely do the task better than you could anyway.

    Question 3: What Best Practices make delegating work?

    Once you realize that providing your staff with additional responsibility is a good call, how do you put it into practice. Here are some tips:

    •  Stop using the excuses in question No. 1 and embrace the wisdom and reality of the reasons in question No. 2.
    • Commit to making task analysis, process improvements and delegation all critical strategies for your organization.
    • “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” asserted management guru Peter Drucker years ago. So, consider time a rare and valuable resource and measure how well you use it.
    • Have each key manager log his or her time use in 15-minute increments during different days in different weeks. List incoming calls, texts or emails separately and then analyze the results.
    • Embrace process mapping—identify major processes critical for the operation of the business and have each person involved in that process map it or list step by step how he or she does it.
    • Share the maps in a group meeting, merge the various steps and create a composite best practice procedure for that process. Document it, create job aids for training new people on it and evaluate performance effectiveness and efficiency against the procedure.
    • Use the “Urgent/Important” matrix where each task is evaluated according to how urgent and important it is. Low urgent/important tasks are potential for eliminating or delegating. High urgent/important tasks deserve more emphasis.
    • Another method is to assign an arbitrary value for your time—a high dollar/hour amount. Then, create three groups of tasks:
      • 1. Those for which you are paid too much—a high probability for dumping or delegating.
      • 2. Those for which you are paid fairly—keep doing them.
      • 3. And most importantly, those tasks for which you are not paid enough.These represent your best and highest use, so spend more time and effort on them, the result of delegating or dumping the lower value items.
    • You get what you ask for and model, so start small and simple by effectively delegating to your subordinate staff.
    • Teach them how to do it right. If you don’t know how, hire a specialized consultant who can help you.
    • You get what you reward, so make effective delegation part of their written performance objectives and include factors affecting their salary increases.

    As you’ve seen, effective delegation is both an art and a science. Properly done, it generates significant value for your team, your organization and yourself. And don’t tell me it won’t work—until you can tell me it didn’t work.

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication ( www.communicate-confidently.com440 449-0356) and empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. Stella is a COSE Ambassador, Resource Network  Expert, Content Committee member and frequent speaker at the Small Business Conventions. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.  

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  • Next up: Destination Unstoppable For Small Businesses

    Destination Unstoppable For Small Businesses

    Business Growth Boot Camp: Destination Unstoppable - The Journey of No Teammate Left Behind speaker Maureen Electa Monte talks about success from her Destination Unstoppable® program.

    My two favorite client groups are small businesses and sports teams because they share so many characteristics! They are hungry. They are nimble. They are energized. They care about finding the right people and placing them in a role to succeed. Leaders and employees are eager to help the team achieve goals. My Destination Unstoppable® program and the needs of small businesses and sports teams overlap nicely, so you can imagine my excitement when I had the chance to combine the two!

    Maximizing Team Talent
    A co-owner of a services-based business had a son on the Cranbrook Hockey team that I was working with. We met to discuss my program and how it improves team chemistry. Even though this business was already extraordinarily successful, like an elite sports organization, they wanted to perform to their full potential. This company had experienced rapid growth and had added locations. People were beginning to feel a bit disconnected from one another. We agreed to tackle that common business problem by deepening the sense of connection between partners, the leadership team, and branch site managers. There were 11 people in the initial work group.

    We began by measuring the strengths of the team. This important step helps us indentify and harness talent on the team, and there is always untapped and misunderstood talent on a team. I use the Clifton StrengthsFinder® so that we gain insight into how people think (and we can’t see how you think – this is an important value proposition for clients in fields where mental horsepower drives a competitive edge), execute tasks, relate and influence others. I conducted individual coaching sessions with each participant so that they could build a performance strategy founded in self-awareness, and review what success looked as individuals and as a team.

    Aligning Talent and Success
    Shortly thereafter, we had a full day retreat to reveal the strengths of the team as a group and to strengthen the bonds of teamwork. The day was full of laughter and “aha’s!” as the partners and employees saw the strengths of their colleagues. The partner with his foot on the gas (a strength called Activator) was face to face with the partner who provides a brake (a strength called Deliberative). Often at odds in meetings, they now understood why. Let’s face it – when we buy a car, we want both a gas pedal and a brake. Both are valuable when used appropriately! Similar examples associated with differences in thinking, relating, executing, and influencing were revealed.

    As we explored the answer to the question, “What does success look like for this team?” the conversation was lively and constructive. All voices were heard. Each person spoke about alignment between their natural strengths and success for the team, and new ways to contribute were revealed.

    The feedback forms were insightful with 100% of the team agreeing that the coaching and workshop were valuable and would make the team more successful. Comments included:

    • Now I know why I can’t leave tasks halfway done.

    • Now I understand why I get so frustrated with the pace of change (or lack thereof!) in this company.

    • This really helped me to understand the things that motivate my teammates and why they excel in their respective roles.

    • I know who I can go to for help.

    • Loved this workshop! I knew I worked with an amazing team but today proved that (the company) wants the best for us and my team.

    Today, this business continues to grow and we’re moving on to a similar project with all 45 employees.

    Is Your Company Unstoppable?
    When you join us for our Destination Unstoppable Boot Camp, you and your teams will:

    a) Learn your strengths. The registration fee includes a code for the Clifton StrengthsFinder. When you take it, it will return your top 5 patterns of excellence and provide a customized report.

    b) Learn what your results mean and how you can align your strengths with success.

    c) Discover team talent that was undervalued, misunderstood or underutilized.

    d) Learn next steps to maintain momentum.

    I want to make one more important point. Destination Unstoppable is not a place; it is a shared mindset. It is a heightened energy derived from a unified group that deeply understands and believes in how good they are. It’s a team firing on all cylinders.

    Let’s work together to get your team on the path to Destination Unstoppable and stay there!

    The Business Growth Boot Camp: Destination Unstoppable - The Journey of No Teammate Left Behind will be held on Thursday, June 22nd. Click here if you'd like to register for the event.

    Gallup®, StrengthsFinder®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. Destination Unstoppable® is a trademark of Maureen Monte Consulting, llc. All rights reserved.

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  • Next up: Do Your Emails Suck?

    Do Your Emails Suck?

    Not sure if your emails are missing the mark? If you’re committing any of these 15 worst email practices, they just might be compromising your professionalism and effectiveness.

    Your routine workplace emails might suck if you ignore the reality that every note you send a customer, colleague or manager can project your image of professionalism, competency and courtesy—or detract from it.

    So, if you don’t want your emails to suck, just avoid these worst practices.

    Email Worst Practice No. 1: Not asking if everyone on a large distribution list really needs or wants to see this message. 

    Email Worst Practice No. 2: Retaining long strings of email addresses that precede your actual message.

    Email Worst Practice No. 3: Using an ineffective subject line like ‘Report’ or, even worse, ‘no subject.’

    Email Worst Practice No. 4: Writing long, rambling sentences and paragraphs with multiple key points that make your message difficult to read and digest in a hurry.

    Email Worst Practice No. 5: Using ALL CAPS or all lower-case words instead of proper capitalization.

    Email Worst Practice No. 6: Including humor, sarcasm or slang that can be taken out of context, misinterpreted or appear unprofessional.

    Email Worst Practice No. 7: Not using white space, bullets, sub-heads or other text breakers to make it easier for people to effectively read your message, especially when they are in a hurry.

    Email Worst Practice No. 8: Sounding too formal or stuffy with a message that should be more casual and conversational.

    Email Worst Practice No. 9: Attaching very long documents that could easily get caught in spam or security filters.

    And your emails definitely suck if you are:

    Email Worst Practice No. 10: Using ‘cc’ that displays a long distribution list instead of concealing the names with a ‘bcc.’

    Email Worst Practice No. 11: Failing to keep it short and simple so the whole message can fit in a single screen without scrolling down

    Email Worst Practice No. 12: Sending your response to everyone because you hit ‘Reply All’ instead of ‘Reply to Sender.’

    Email Worst Practice No. 13: Beginning them with ‘Dear Bob … ‘ instead of simply using ‘Bob ….’

    Email Worst Practice No. 14: Not proofreading beyond auto spell-check and actually reading your message twice before sending it.

    Email Worst Practice No. 15: Failing to determine that an email is the best method for solving this particular communication need with this person or group and better than a text, phone call or face-to-face chat.

    So, there you go—simple techniques to help you project a more positive, professional and courteous image and create emails that don’t suck. Your readers will notice and appreciate the difference.

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,", 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication and sales pitches. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  

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  • Next up: Easing Pain Points and Growing a Business in Northeast Ohio: COSE Member Profile

    Easing Pain Points and Growing a Business in Northeast Ohio: COSE Member Profile

    As part of our ongoing series getting to know our members and the issues facing their businesses, we sat down with Damon Piatek, president and founder of Welke Customs Brokers USA. Hear what he had to say about easing customer pain points and growing his business in Cleveland.

    Welke Customs Brokers USA provides comprehensive Customs and Logistics services to a large number of well-regarded importers and exporters, including Customs clearances, compliance, training and education and cargo insurance. Since our inception in 2008, we have redefined the term "quality services" by providing our clients Personal Concierge Care through our dedicated and highly qualified customer service staff. Welke Customs Brokers USA are certified members of Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). Due to our exceptional internal controls, Welke has been showcased to other foreign and domestic governmental departments.



    Trade Secrets Podcast:

    MYB: What is the main pain point you try to ease for your customers and what is your unique approach for easing this pain point?

    One of the interesting things about our business model of being what we call an “operational” U.S. Customs broker is that oftentimes importing companies don’t necessarily know their pain points. We find that many companies are either spending unnecessarily in duties and other expenses, or leaving money on the table—things that their “transactional” brokers won’t look for, or bring to their attention. While for most brokers, the relationship is about the actual import entry, Welke USA acts as a partner to our clients, assisting them from the acquisition of raw materials all the way through the delivery of the finished product. So, we’re able to see things that other brokers don’t, and advise our clients accordingly.

    MYB: What is it about Cleveland that makes it a good location for your business?

    Cleveland has been an absolute blessing for Welke USA. Our headquarters is in Buffalo, NY, and when the time was right for expansion, Northeast Ohio was not only the perfect place to start—a similar market with related industries, also with unbelievable momentum overcoming a Rust Belt past—but incredibly welcoming. We have had nothing but positive experiences since we set up shop in Cleveland several years ago, and our experiences here have paved the way for new market entries coming on line for us over the next 12 months.

    -RELATED: How to prepare for hard times as a business owner.

    MYB: What have been some effective ways you have worked to grow your clients in Northeast Ohio?

    Particularly with our business model, the Customs business is a relationship business. Coming into a market and spending a bunch of money on ads is not going to do the trick. We have made a full court press on building relationships in Northeast Ohio, through organizations like COSE, GCP, Wirenet and others, as well as good old-fashioned knocking on doors (it still works, no matter what the sales “experts” tell you!). We believe our business model, level of service and story sets Welke USA apart. So, it stands to reason that the more people we talk to, the better we’re going to do.

    -RELATED: Advice that has helped me to grow my business.

    MYB: How has your COSE membership helped you to achieve success?

    COSE has been absolutely essential to Welke USA’s growth in Northeast Ohio. Absolutely essential. Years ago, I was working a sales job for another company that had me calling on companies in Cleveland. I got involved with COSE, and saw the value of the organization for making connections. When I started Welke USA and knew Cleveland was an important market, joining COSE was a no-brainer. We’ve jumped in with both feet—attending events, sponsorships, booths at BizConCLE and other events, board service and more. COSE has delivered time and time again in meeting our needs.

    Learn more about the benefits of being a COSE Member by clicking here. Or, contact our Membership Team directly via email at or by phone at 216-592-2355.

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