Read time: 4 mins      Added: 14/11/2022

In an increasingly challenging economic landscape, the rising costs of doing business are having a huge impact across the UK. But it’s not just businesses themselves that are affected; mental health is at risk, too.

The connection between money and mind is a complex one. Money worries can seriously affect mental wellbeing, but at the same time, mental health problems can impact your business. Understanding the implications poor mental health can have, and the benefits of good mental wellbeing are therefore key to strengthening both mind and business.

The bottom line

When the success of your business comes down to the bottom line, it’s difficult to switch off from money matters. With rising inflation and supply chain disruptions affecting many businesses, understanding your own financial position can set you on a steady path. While the reality may not be what you’d want it to be, knowing the true picture will allow you to make the right choices when budgeting, forecasting and making decisions.

Often the initial signs that a business is struggling – short-term cash flow issues or difficulties paying suppliers – can cause stress and anxiety. Getting sight of these issues as early as possible affords you more time to react and keep your options open.

Trading issues such as late or non-payments, not receiving goods, and changes in interest/exchange rates are particularly difficult to manage when they are out of your control. These can fuel feelings of uncertainty, the knock-on effect of which can be detrimental to mental health.

If external pressures are outside of your control, making changes inside your business can have a positive impact on you and your bottom line. For example, accelerating sustainability within your business can often be an effective cost-saving measure as well as contribute to your business’s Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) agenda. Likewise, growth may need to go on the back burner while you focus on keeping your business afloat. This adaptable approach may prove to be a pragmatic and effective response to tricky times.

A stronger mind

It’s also important to know that you’re not alone. While one in four people in the general population have experienced a mental health problem, this rises to four in five small business owners.

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion, and is particularly prevalent in the workplace. Often, business leaders respond by working harder, across longer hours and placing themselves under greater pressure. If your mental wellbeing suffers subsequently, then the likelihood is you’ll be less able to make good business decisions.

But there is action you can take.

Being proactive in both money matters and mental wellbeing is therefore an essential investment in your business. This approach contributes to resilience, defined as the capacity to recover quickly from setbacks, and can be developed over time.

Setbacks are typical in business, so understanding your tipping point is a good place to start. What happens to you when things get too much? Could this have been avoided? What are your coping strategies?

One coping strategy is to practice the 4 Ds – Ditch, Defer, Delegate, and Do (PDF, 580 KB). Review your ‘To Do’ list and apply the 4 Ds to it. Be honest with your review until you have a manageable plan of action, prioritised with both you and your business in mind. Encourage your team to do the same.

The Stress Bucket (PDF, 111 KB) is another popular coping strategy to consider. It is a useful metaphor for stress and resilience. The Stress Bucket enables you to visualise the things that cause you stress (add water into your bucket and therefore reduce capacity), alongside the things you can do to manage them (empty water from the bucket to increase capacity and therefore resilience). Completing this exercise with your team can enable everyone to recognise common stressors and provide a space to collaboratively generate strategies to manage them.

Workplace and wellbeing

As well as coping strategies, a workplace wellbeing plan is another way to consider what you and others need to do to stay well in work, and what kind of support would be needed when you are too stressed or unwell. The plan (PDF, 171 KB) asks six key questions, the results of which can be shared with colleagues who can then identify when things are getting too much and take action.

Knowing when you can handle things alone and when you might need help with finances or with mental wellbeing is an important distinction. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s a sign of strength, similar to any other scenario that you need to ask for help with.

Supporting Scottish businesses in partnership with Mental Health UK

Many business owners and leaders feel they need help with their mental health but don’t know where to start.

Developed in partnership with Mental Health UK, the content in this hub is designed to provide tips and guidance for improving mental health and building resilience to help set you and your business up for success. 

How to build mental resilience

Managing business costs and uncertainty

Help, guidance and financial options to help you build resilience and manage the impact of rising costs and inflation on your business.

Inflation, costs and cash flow

Support and strategies to help you reduce business costs, manage risk and improve cash flow.

Financial worries

Businesses are facing enormous challenges right now. Many are facing supply chain issues, alongside rising inflation and higher energy and fuel costs.