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The Business Game Face – Why it’s bad for Business and your Mental Health

Business Game Face

Sometimes the wheels fall off in  business. When they do, they tend to fall off in a big way. At this time, a small business owner will put on their game face, the mask which hides what is actually going on underneath. It’s a human reaction, but one which can have huge impacts on both the ongoing viability of the business and also the Mental Health of the business owner.

You see, below the game face lies a business, and an owner, that needs help. Sometimes these issues can be easily fixed, however just like an illness such as a cancer or an infection, if caught early, you have the best chance of recovery.

By putting on the game face, a business owner puts pride ahead of progress. The thought process is something like, “Well, I’ll just keep scrambling on the surface and eventually it will come good. If I tell anyone it will be bad for business.” This refusal to admit externally, that there is a problem, results in personal stress just bubbling away, and essentially making the problem worse. More stress = Lower Performance. The more prolonged, the worse it gets, leading to  not only massive burden on the business owner but also major financial loss.

I recently worked with a business that had suffered sign ificant downturn as a result of Covid19 restrictions. The business owner was rightfully proud of the effort they had put in to create their little piece of the small business community. Business has a lot of emotion tied to it. It’s no wonder business owners want to be determined and “soldier on”.

Ultimately, and unfortunately, for this business, the correct course of action was to make the hard decision to close the business and stem the flow of losses.

All the determination in the world will not solve fundamental problems existing in a business, in this case, poor sales figures and rising debts.

Another example of the game face is the resistance to change. A recent client was experiencing significant Cashflow issues, caused by poor inventory and receivables management. Yet for the client, they were on top of all of these things, and their default position was to not focus too much on improvement, instead hoping that more sales will mask it. It won’t .

In this instance we structured a clear monitoring of the key numbers monthly and encouraged improvement projects in a non judgemental way. Plans were formulated, issues corrected and eventually cashflow eased.

In both examples above, it all had to start by admitting that an issue actually existed.

The game face is like admitting to an addiction in a sense. You have to be ready to do something about it.

Removing the game face can be hard but is an essential element to dealing with business setbacks and also personal mental health wellbeing. If you have the game face on, try these 3 actions to start moving towards an authentic business leader.


Discuss: Take time to discuss the reality situation with either someone close to you or your key advisor. By doing this you will be able to release the pressure that has built up.

Seek Assistance: If a financial issue, seek advice from your accountant who may be able to further refer you to a financial counsellor or similar service

See your GP: This is a great first port of call if you are under stress in your business. Keeping on top ofyour physical and mental wellbeing are the first priority in all of this.

One last tip is to checkout the resources provided by organisations such as Beyondblue and Headsup in regards to small business owners wellbeing.

Checkout the Podcast below for more discussion on this topic

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