Greg Jennings: Hi everyone. Thanks so much for joining us today for this tutorial about how small business advisors can support small business clients to improve their mental health. Before we get started, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we stand on which we meet today. Here in Melbourne, that's the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and in Sydney where we have our guest Tim Hoopman joining, it's the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We pay our respects to their elders' past, present and future.
Greg Jennings: As Beyond Blue is an organization with national reach, I'd like to extend that respect to all elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the country. Now, Beyond Blue's recently launched a new resource and to help small business advisors and to support their small business clients. It's all about supporting small business owners to improve their mental health and wellbeing. It's called a guide for work contacts, family, and friends. It's about supporting small business owners. So, what we'd like to do today is walk you through how you can use this guide as a small business advisor.
Greg Jennings: I'm joined by Tim Hoopman, and we've brought him along today because Tim is a fantastic member of the small business community. Not only is he a small business owner himself, but he's also been a small business advisor. So, Tim's going to bring that really practical perspective to today's discussion. But before we get into it, it's good to reflect, "Why small business?" Well, we know 97% of businesses in Australia are small businesses, and they employ almost half the private sector workforce.
Greg Jennings: But we also know small business owners can face a number of challenges when they're starting and running a business. All of those can impact their mental health. Almost one-third of small business owners report having high levels of psychological distress, mainly due to long working hours, social isolation, customer demands, cash flow issues, and the conflict between work and home. That's even higher for some segments of the small business community as well like sole traders. So, protecting and improving the mental health of small business owners will have a profound impact on millions of Australians on communities, on the small business owners and their families, on their staff, and on the economy, and that's why that small businesses are a huge focus for Beyond Blue's workplace program.
Greg Jennings: But this latest resource is targeted at small business advisors, and that's because we know small business owners are time-poor. They're focused on running their business, but what they've told us is they often turn to the people they trust. They're trusted advisors as a source of advice for practical support both in terms of business but also in terms of some of the other issues they're facing in their life. That might be a business adviser. It might be a family member, or it might be a friend. It could even be another small business owner.
Greg Jennings: Regardless as a trusted advisor, you're often the first person to notice the signs that a small business owner might be struggling. That could be either business signs like cash flow issues or personal signs, like they might be acting out of character. Now, of course, we're not saying small business advisors should become counsellor by any means. But what we are saying is you have such strong relationships with your small business clients, and you can help support them through difficult times.
Greg Jennings: So, this new guide provides practical advice that you can really understand and rely on. It has information about mental health and wellbeing for small business owners. It gives you a bit of an understanding about what mental health is. It helps you understand how to provide immediate support for someone who might be distressed. It also helps you recognize those signs and symptoms, what to look out for in your clients, and then how you can actually have a conversation with a small business owner you might be concerned about.
Greg Jennings: Importantly, it helps you understand how you can support that small business owner to get the help they need and how you can look after your own mental health as a supporter of someone who might be struggling. Now, really important to recognize that this guide has been co-designed with the small business community, both small business owners themselves and small business advisors, because we wanted to make sure that it was as practical and relevant as possible. It's been designed to have an interactive function. I'm going to pull it up shortly, so you can have a look, but you can navigate through the different sections in different pages really easily to make sure you can find the information that you're looking for. The guide's available to download at bb.org.au/supportingsmallbusiness.
Greg Jennings: Before we get stuck in today's tutorial, it'd be great if you download that guide, and we can walk through it together. The guide's been designed for anyone who has contact with a small business. Regardless of who you are, but for the simplicity of today's tutorial, we'll walk through using an example of someone like an accountant or a business advisor as a primary example, and that's why we've brought Tim Hoopman along today who's played that role for many small business owners.
Greg Jennings: So, Tim, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your experiences as both a small business owner and as a small business advisor?
Tim Hoopman: Thanks very much for inviting me along today. I'm incredibly excited about the guide that Beyond Blue have brought out for advisors to small business owners. I've been a small business owner for over 15 years now and have learned a lot of things along the way in terms of challenges that it takes running a small business. The other thing I've done running a bookkeeping business for over 10 years is I've sat listening and talking to over hundreds of small business owners themselves at times in distress.
Tim Hoopman: So, it's great to be able to come and join you share some information of what I've learned along the way and have a really good conversation and help the listeners out there use this guide practically for not only themselves but for the small business owners that they come into contact with.
Greg Jennings: Well, why don't we pull up the guide now, so we can show everyone what we're talking about?
Tim Hoopman: Greg, I've had the advantage of being able to review this guide over the last month or so since you've had it launched. Plus I was also part of the team that helped put it together, so it was very exciting for me to be part of that small business stakeholder group. I think for me when I look at this guide now, it's incredibly informative. It's interactive. It's got some practical tips, and what I think the most important thing is that it recognizes that advisors to small business need support. So, I'm really looking forward to our conversation today, and I'm hoping that you'd be able to give me some examples of when this resource might be very helpful.
Tim Hoopman: If you could perhaps explain as we go through, and I have a couple of number of questions for you. Where in the guide people could find reference to the questions that we discuss? How does that sound?
Greg Jennings: Perfect. Let's get stuck into it.
Tim Hoopman: Okay, let's go. Greg, I've been doing some planning for a client who is new to business, and I want to help them get set up correctly from the start both profitably and also with a mental health business focus. Where do I start?
Greg Jennings: That's a really good question, Tim. A great place to start is downloading this guide and looking at our introduction to mental health and small business, which you can find on page two of this resource. Mental health and wellbeing and the small business community. So, we'll jump into that. This section describes what mental health is and what some of the business benefits are for investing in mental health when you're running a small business. We explain that mental health is best described as being on a continuum where everyone's mental health varies over the course of their lifetime from positive, healthy, and functioning on one end where people have really good coping mechanisms through to where people might be at risk in the orange section and then down to the red end of the continuum where someone might be really struggling, and their mental health is actually having a severe impact on their everyday functioning.
Greg Jennings: Now, everyone's mental health varies over the course of their life and for some people, that might even be on a daily basis, but it's good to have a great understanding that mental health isn't static, and it does change. But positive mental health, so when we're at the green end of the continuum, it can really contribute to a strong functioning and healthy business owner and business. So, positive mental health and weight wellbeing can lead to increased learning, creativity, productivity, positive social behaviours, and relationships, just to name a few, and if someone is struggling, there are some practical things that they can do, some practical strategies that they can put in place to help them move back to that green end of the continuum.
Greg Jennings: Now, research shows that small business owners who invest in mental health, they can see really strong returns. In some industries, small business owners can see returns of up to $15 for every dollar they spend on workplace mental health, so it's not only good for them personally, it's absolutely good for the business as well. So, Tim, from your experience, why is it so critical to get that balance between focusing both on your business profitability and also on your mental health as well?
Tim Hoopman: Well, first and foremost, Greg, I absolutely love this chart and what you just explained about a continuum, and one of the things that I've learned over the last couple of years in particular as a speaker for Beyond Blue is simply that it is a continuum, and we need to manage our mental health along that continuum and not to be too hard on ourselves as we slide along there. So, I think it's a really, really great place to start, and the other reason for it is as advisors to other small business, if we're going to talk about mentally healthy businesses, we need to understand what mental health is. We need to understand this continuum. We need to learn, and we need to know the signs that others may show that may recognize that they're struggling with their mental health. So, I reckon this is absolutely a spot-on place to start.
Tim Hoopman: So, that all makes really good sense. However, what are some of the practical actions I can take and suggest to not only a new business owner, but any of the business owners that I deal with to promote good mental health for not only themselves but also their staff?
Greg Jennings: Great question. So, I'm going to take you down to this link here, which is handy resources and links, and what we've done is we've compiled a few really practical resources that can help small business owners really start on the right foot. So, I walk you through a couple of those now. Firstly, what we're trying to do here is encourage small business owners to do some planning both around their personal wellbeing, also around their workplace wellbeing, so if you're employing staff, or if you've got other people in the workplace and then finally, around your business health as well. So, there's three templates that we encourage small business owners to download and work through, and they could do that with their small business advisor.
Greg Jennings: The small business, the personal wellbeing plan, has been designed for the individual owner themselves, and that's to help address some of the really unique challenges that small businesses face when they're running a business. For example, when it asks you to reflect on some of the reasons that you have for getting into small business in the first place just to remind you of why there, what you enjoy doing about running a small business. It also asks you to write down some of the triggers that you might face that some of your personal triggers, some of the things that you might find stressful, and that might increase your stress.
Greg Jennings: Then, finally, what's some of the things that you might be able to do to address some of those stresses? That's going to be different for everyone. This second template is the workplace wellbeing plan. So, this has been designed to complement that initial template, and it's really to help build a really mentally healthy workplace, so to ensure that everyone in the business in addition to the small business owner themselves are set up in the best possible manner, so that they can achieve their best possible mental health. So, that might be staff. It might be contractors. It might be family or friends who work in the business as well.
Greg Jennings: Tim, from your experience, what are some of the types of things that you would include in your either personal or workplace wellbeing plan?
Tim Hoopman: Well, first and foremost, Greg, my advice to anyone if you're not only a small business owner but in particular, if you're an advisor to a small business owner, and in a lot of cases, you will be a small business owner yourself, is start by completing both the personal wellbeing plan and the workplace wellbeing plan yourself, and I think the really important reason of doing that is if you're going to be recommending and talking to other people about it, you need to understand it yourself, and by doing it, you understand the value of the plans, the time it took, and what some of the outcomes will be. So, I think it's very important that you start by completing it yourself before you're having conversations with other people.
Tim Hoopman: The personal wellbeing plan. Again, one of the great things I've learned is when we're looking and thinking about our own mental health, we start with ourself because if we look after our self-first, we are in a great place to look after others, and I think the personal being plan is really spot on for small business owners. A couple of the observations I would make, triggers that'll be different for everyone. So, the guide is there, but they're going to be different for everybody, and we need to acknowledge that different people have different triggers in their own business, but what triggers me and my business will be completely different to other people.
Tim Hoopman: When you're looking at the warning signs, you need to do a lot of self-reflection around that yourself, and it's really important. When you're thinking about habits within your business, one of the things I always like talking about is boundaries. What are those boundaries that you have in place to take care of yourself? So, there's some other important comments in the plan about what you can do if you're unable to work and when you return to work, and I always think it's interesting that we insure our car every year. We insure our house. We're running around insuring lots of things and often, we don't think about ourselves.
Tim Hoopman: So, thinking about a risk mitigation plan within our business is a great spot to start, and one of the things always to remember when you're putting these plans together is understand who are the key people in your lives, family, friends, business associates that you can reach out to. So, I think absolutely start with the personal wellbeing plan. Then when we move to the workplace wellbeing plan, again, if you've got a team, the best place to start with this plan is to involve the team because you're all working together, and it's really important that you bring everybody into the discussion.
Tim Hoopman: At the beginning, it might be a little uncomfortable, but work through that and show that you're authentic and real about making a difference within your workplace, and then I certainly believe that your team will come on board. So, when you're looking at the business needs or you're identifying risk, again, it'll be different for each business. In some businesses, there's a lot of physical risk because of the work that they do that could lead to mental health issues or in other cases, people are working constantly in an office.
Tim Hoopman: So, talk to your teams. Understand what it's going to do to create a healthy environment. Ask what's important to them because in building these plans, yes, it's about you running your business, but it's also about the people that work there. Is it flexible hours? Is it more time off when the kids are on holidays? What is it around boundaries and emails and phone? How is it best to manage the client without having to be available 24/7? I think it's really important to not be afraid of having these conversations, not be afraid about people at times that may be struggling in your work environment because then, you're well-equipped and so is your team to help them.
Tim Hoopman: Always, always when you're writing a plan, it's about continuous improvement. So, don't just write it and put it in the bottom drawer. Please, please make it a real document and update it as you go along because you'll learn along the way.
Greg Jennings: Such an important point. These aren't point-in-time documents. They're something you should be continuously reflecting on and updating both for yourself and for your team, and just an important note, so as I mentioned before, we have a small business planning tool that you can access at the bottom there. It links off to a really fantastic resource that's been developed. That's a really important moment to reflect it to have a really sustainable and profitable small business. Your mental health and wellbeing, all the plans that we've just talked about, need to be integrated into your overall business plan.
Greg Jennings: So, you need to be thinking about how you can integrate your small business mental health requirements as an owner and in terms of looking after your staff into what you're trying to achieve as a business, into your business goals. So, looking at all of these three planning tools in conjunction with each other is a really positive step forward.
Tim Hoopman: Just a comment there, Greg. We're coming up to the end of the calendar year. So, January and February are really great time to review that business plan if you haven't and now bringing mental health plans both personal and workplace.
Greg Jennings: Couldn't agree more, Tim. Start the year off on the right foot, and it'll see you right through the year.
Tim Hoopman: Now, Greg, one of my clients is acting out of character. They've missed a number of appointments. They're often perhaps not even present when I'm talking to them on the phone. They appear frazzled at times, and they're getting behind in managing their business and making their payments. I'm not sure if these signs are potential mental health issues. I'm also not sure what situations I can suggest to them. How can this guide help me?
Greg Jennings: Well, as we mentioned earlier, advisors are often one of the first people to notice that a small business owner might be struggling, and particularly for some of those business signs, things like missing payments or things like not turning up to appointments. They're signs that something might be a miss. So, what we've developed is a combination of some personal and business signs and symptoms that a small business owner might be experiencing some poor mental health.
Greg Jennings: If you go back up here to the navigation bar, you'll find here signs of poor mental health and wellbeing, and this page outlines both of those signs. So, starting with some of the personal science, and look, these are by no means an exhaustive list of signs and symptoms. These are intended to give you a bit of an indication of things that you could look out for. It could be things like if someone's acting out of character, or if they're impatient or irritable or angering quickly, or if they're distracted or having difficulty managing different tasks or multiple tasks. If they're distant or more distant than they usually are. If they're not engaged when you're having discussions or meetings. All of these behaviours that could cause concern in terms of your interactions and your personal relationship and knowing this small business owner.
Greg Jennings: So, there's some of the personal signs, but some of the business challenges are often some of the things that you'll most relate to as a business advisor. So things like noticing that a business owner might not be keeping up with their obligations. Maybe they're not making their payments to the tax office, or maybe they haven't been paying their staff because they're having some cashflow issues. For businesses who don't have some of that internal support, if they don't have access to HR support or administrative support, they're often under a lot more pressure, and you'll start to see signs, like they might have some outstanding accounts with some of their suppliers.
Greg Jennings: So, there's just things that you can watch out for and start to reflect on, yes, of course, that might be an issue just solely for the business, but also it might be something a little bit more indicative that the small business owner might be struggling with their mental health, and then you can start to look at these two sets of signs and symptoms in conjunction and look at where there's some business signs and some personal signs and start to recognize when it might be time to sit down and have a chat with this small business owner and express your concerns.
Greg Jennings: So, Tim, there's lots of things that advisors can do and recommend if they think that a small business owner might be struggling. Can you talk us through a bit of an example of when you've had to have a conversation with a small business owner, had to recognize some of these signs and symptoms?
Tim Hoopman: Greg, well, firstly, this two-page handout. One of the key things that I really like about this is the section that they talk about personal signs. A lot of them are behavioural like nervous or angry or anxious or irritable. I think one of the very first things is to understand that sometimes somebody else's behaviour is not a reflection on what you're doing or what you're not doing, and often when we have a number of customers, and there are changes in behaviour, and they might be irritable or angry, one of the first places we go to is, "What am I doing wrong or what is my team doing wrong in dealing with that small business owner?" I think this two-pager really helps to understand that perhaps there's a lot of other things going on, and it's not just a reflection on anything that we're doing.
Tim Hoopman: It's very interesting starting a conversation. One of the key challenges with that is actually just getting started, and I know in the past on occasions, I would have procrastinated because I didn't want to upset anybody, but one of the things that I learned, and I'll give you a really good example, is I was listening a number of years ago to couple of my team members and also noticing myself. They were chatting about a change in behaviour, and the customer was quite... He wasn't really present. He was sometimes distant and a bit irritable, but actually, no one was asking him.
Tim Hoopman: So, I thought, "Okay, well, now, it's my turn to try and do something positive," and in terms of having a discussion with them, and it wasn't easy. I went to start a couple of times, and then I stopped because I wasn't really sure. However, once I did get underway, I found it was a lot easier because... If I look back at this customer, over three occasions did we talk, and the very first conversation was everything is fine. It was absolutely fine, and nothing's a problem. One of the things I learned was I had to leave it at that because it was not any point of me pushing it or making about me.
Tim Hoopman: So, the second time we had a conversation, he started to open up a little more and started to share things. By the time we had the third conversation, he was talking about a lot of other things that were going on in his life personally as well as business that were impacting on what was happening. So, it started to open up as a conversation, but it did take time, and I did have to be quite patient. I had to go from being, "Okay, we got to sort this out because he's a client of mine," just showing much more empathy and care about what was important to him.
Greg Jennings: Fantastic. That's a great example. And look, as you pointed out, we've got some really handy resources here that you can provide to a small business owner who might be struggling with their mental health, and they're actually just practical takeaways that they can look at and reflect on and think about in their own context and in the context of their own challenges.
Greg Jennings: One of the things we have for someone who might not be sure, a small business owner who might not be sure, if they do need additional help, is we have a checklist here called the Anxiety and Depression Checklist that walks small business owner through some of the signs and symptoms themselves. So, they can personally reflect on their own situation and identify if they might need some help and go through that process themselves. As you mentioned, when you start these conversations initially, people might not be in that space, and sometimes they need that own opportunity to reflect themselves and walk through something like this Anxiety and Depression Checklist for themselves.
Tim Hoopman: That's great help. I would encourage everybody to take time to go to these additional resources and information outside the guide because, Greg, you've already talked about a number of links to a number of really good pieces of information, and again, take time to have a look at those because you'll learn by reading each and every one of them. So, now, we've talked about the fact that I know that there's potentially an issue with a client of mine, and I would really like to help and support them. How do I start a conversation?
Tim Hoopman: I know I mentioned before how I did, but how would our listeners out there start a conversation? Because maybe they've just never had any conversation with anyone about this, and they've been either reluctant, a little scared. They've generally wanted to help, but they didn't know where to start, and I know that on occasions, I felt a little bit like this, but I know other people that I've talked to who have said, "What I'm also concerned about is will I become their counsellor?" I'm bit concerned about that, and I don't want to take on that role. How can you help us with this guide, Greg?
Greg Jennings: Look, that's a really, really common piece of feedback from people like business advisors. They want to help their clients because they've forged such strong relationships with them but also, they want to know that they've set those boundaries right, they don't want to take on too much or get out of their depth. So, what we say to all business advisors is we're not expecting you to become a counsellor, but there are some really simple things that you can do, for example, talk to someone that you might be concerned about. So, I'll take you through to going back to this navigation bar, speaking to someone that you might be concerned about.
Greg Jennings: Now, Tim, as you're aware, sometimes, people do worry that talking about mental health issues might make matters worse, but we know. All the research shows us that definitely it doesn't make matters worse, and in fact, it shows someone that they're being supported, that they're not alone. So, how you set those boundaries really will depend on the relationships that you have with your small business client. But regardless of that relationship, we've set out some really practical steps that you can use to start a conversation, start it in a way that's going to set you up to have a really productive conversation.
Greg Jennings: So, we walk you through a couple of steps. Firstly, planning that conversation. Just considering when and where you're going to have this talk, making sure it's a private place where the person's going to feel comfortable, and then secondly, and what I found in discussing these issues with small business advisors, they're really looking for some of these conversation starters. Something that's going to help signpost to a small business owner that you're really approaching this conversation with their best interest in mind and trying to get them to open up and talk about how they're doing.
Greg Jennings: So, that could be as simple as something like saying, "You don't seem yourself. Is everything okay?" Just starting with something like that, a really open question, something that feels comfortable for you to say as a small business advisor, knowing your relationship with that client. Look, it's really important to remember. You don't need to have all the answers. You're not there to solve anything. What you're there to do is to be a sounding board for your client.
Greg Jennings: So, sometimes, people will react really well to this, and they'll discuss some of the challenges that they've faced, and you can use some of the tools and tactics that we've set out in this guide to help you through that conversation. But sometimes, someone might not want to talk about these things, and it's important to respect their privacy, but still leave that door open for a conversation in the future. That's when you might want to go back down to some of these other resources. It might be that you want to provide them a copy of this checklist, so that they can run through those signs and symptoms themselves and reflect on where they're at personally.
Greg Jennings: It might be that you want to have a look at some of the fantastic resources we have at the end of this guide and provide them access to some other people, independent people, that they might like to contact like the Beyond Blue Support Service. So, Tim, can you just talk us through what are some of the tips that you will provide someone who just want to start that conversation? You've given us an amazing example of someone who you had to engage with a couple of time and having an initial conversation, leave that door open and come back to it later. What are some of your tips for starting that conversation?
Tim Hoopman: Greg, I think one of the things that I've really learned in starting a conversation, first and foremost, is don't delay. The longer you delay the situation, potentially, the more uncomfortable it can be to actually starting that conversation. In particular, as a small business owner, who has advising to small businesses, a lot of the listeners out there might be talking to small business owners every single day. So, you're going to notice changes often more regularly than other people. So, if you do, use the information here and start that conversation and don't delay.
Tim Hoopman: One of the things that I've learned was initially sometimes those conversations I would start would be about our working relationship. So, you would have to start a conversation about the fact that they may have not provided you with a certain piece of information on time, so we couldn't do something. So, all of a sudden, it's quite transactional, and it's very business focused. One of the things I've learned was once I stood that aside and actually focused on them and asked them about how are they feeling or how are they going or is everything all right or however you would start a conversation, and you've got to choose your words and make it personal from you. That often will open up the door to a very different conversation.
Tim Hoopman: I think the other thing for me is showing care and concern and empathy by talking to them on a personal level, not so much a business level, even though they're a client of yours, will often lead to people sharing a little more, and again, my example, they may not share the first time. They might share a little bit the second time. Whatever that journey is will have to be their journey. It's not yours. But as long as I know that you can support them that your team is there to support them, so your team is there to support them. Then it opens up a situation where they may feel more comfortable.
Tim Hoopman: The other thing to do is if you're having these conversations, then without giving away that personal information, that conversation, it's really important to brief your team that, "Hey, I've just had a conversation with this really important client of mine, and they're having a few challenges at the moment. Let's be aware of that and how about you flag if there's anything we can do early on for that client? Don't need to have a conversation with them if you're not comfortable, but let's just show them some concern, reach out to them, support them a little more, and just see where that will lead us to from a business perspective."
Tim Hoopman: So, I think there's a there's twofold there. There's understanding the business relationship, but there's also moving it to having a bit more of a personal relationship.
Greg Jennings: That's great advice.
Tim Hoopman: Thank you, Greg. Now, so what if during a discussion with a client of mine, I become very worried that they might need some immediate help? What steps could I take?
Greg Jennings: That's a really important question, Tim. So, if you're concerned that a small business owner that you work with is in distress or is in need of immediate support, we've got some really handy links and resources available. So, going back up to this navigation bar, providing immediate support. Now, we've detailed a number of organizations who are available to assist anyone who is in crisis or is in distress or feels like they need some support around their mental health. So, it's great to have these on hand.
Greg Jennings: As a small business advisor, it's good have these printed out and have them handy. So, if there is anyone that you're concerned about, you can refer them to one of these support services. So, I'll walk you through a couple of these now. Firstly, we have the Beyond Blue Support Service. That's a 24-hour helpline. That's free. Available 24/7, and it can be contacted on 1300224636, and there's also online support available for someone who might not want to make that call but want some other supports. So, if you go to beyondblue.org.au/getsupport, there's things like live chat, email, and online forums where you can get advice from some of your peers as well.
Greg Jennings: There's other organizations available to assist as well: people like Lifeline who you can contact on 131114, SANE who can be contacted on 1800187263, and the Suicide Call back Service who can be contacted on 1300659467. Now, importantly, if you have someone who's experiencing suicidal thoughts, then it's best not to leave that person alone unless you're concerned for your own safety. In those situations, it's really important to contact 000 immediately. So, get straight on to emergency services if you're really concerned that you have a client who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Greg Jennings: So, Tim, look, this is a really challenging scenario particularly for people who are really struggling with their mental health and really in need of immediate support. How would you approach that type of scenario as a business advisor?
Tim Hoopman: Greg, I haven't been in a situation where someone has required immediate support. I've been fortunate, but I know, and I'm sure listeners out there have been. So, for me, if I look at the information you provided, twofold. I think Beyond Blue helpline and the other support centres are absolutely wonderful for people to have a private conversation with someone that's clinically trained. If they're not comfortable going to their GP, then they can go there, and I think one of the things that I found is being able to provide that. What I noticed was a lot of people didn't know about that.
Tim Hoopman: So, I thought, "Great. That piece of information might just be the right person for them to contact." So, don't underestimate. The people don't know about these things." So, carrying that information is really, really helpful. In terms of suicidal, I think the thing that I've gained from this guide and from you talking is that there is help out there in terms of calling 000 and just being with them. I suppose at the other side of it is, "Is there anything about perhaps looking after myself when supporting a client in this situation?" Because some of these things could be quite distressing for the individual in that situation.
Greg Jennings: Absolutely. Yeah, look, it really can be, and small business advisors, we know how much they care for their clients, and they do tend to take on a lot of the stress around supporting their small business owners, both supporting them in their professional endeavours and supporting the business, but also supporting them when they might be struggling with their mental health issues. So, it's really important that small business advisors look after their own mental health and wellbeing as well.
Greg Jennings: So, up on this navigation bar, we've developed a section specifically around that. How a small business advisor can look after themselves? We always go back to that analogy of the oxygen mask on the airplane. You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself, make sure you look after yourself and your own wellbeing before you can help anyone else, and it's always a great reminder that we need to consistently reflect on our own mental health and wellbeing. So, what are some of the things that you can do? Of course, you can do a lot of things that you should be encouraging your small business owners to do, things like identifying your own stresses and ways to minimize them.
Greg Jennings: You could be doing things like keeping physically fit, keeping a healthy diet, and seeking out professional support when you need it maybe from your GP or from a psychologist. But one of the really important things that you can do as a small business advisor is to make sure that you set those really clear boundaries between yourself and your client, so you're not putting that pressure on yourself to find all of the solutions for them. We know you're trying to do as much as you can, but set those boundaries and be that support, but make sure you're looking after yourself. So, Tim, what are some of the examples of how you look after your own mental health as a small business advisor?
Tim Hoopman: Well, I suppose first and foremost is exactly that. Start by looking after yourself. The guide and the personal wellbeing plan's a great place to start. Look after yourself. There's physical. There's social. Obviously, there's work, and there's also your thoughts. So, be really aware of all of those and how they'll impact on your mental health and start focusing on you, and it's interesting when you start talking about that because in a lot of cases, as a small business owner, it's all about everybody else, but here's a great time to start thinking about yourself. So, I've had to learn that I don't put myself right at the back and focus on everybody else first. I look after myself now.
Tim Hoopman: So, physical exercise is really important to me, boundaries at work, working with clients that I really enjoy working with. There's a host of things now that I look at in terms of looking after myself. Once I've started looking after myself, then I'm in a better position to look after my business, so I can then... We talked earlier about the workplace world wellbeing plans and bringing your teams on board and getting them. If you're in a good place, around that green area on that continuum you talked about earlier, Greg, then you're in a great place to be able to support your business and then start supporting your clients.
Tim Hoopman: So, it's like you got to get your house in order yourself first personally and then be in a position to be able to help other people. On one of the things in doing that that I've learned is I can now very easily have a conversation with anyone anywhere that I'm concerned about without it being confrontational, without it being public in front of somebody else. You can just slowly bring it into you, chat to them. One of the things I do is I'm very observant through emails I received, through social media, work environments, about what's going on with my clients or what's going on with people around me that are in my network, and then when you meet up with them, you can start a conversation with, "I noticed something. How are you going with that?" That sometimes can be the best place to start.
Tim Hoopman: So, there are a couple of tips for me. Start with yourself, then move with your team and your client, and just be really observant about what's going on and cognitive that at times, people are struggling, and just a caring word can be a great place to start.
Greg Jennings: Fantastic. Now, one last thing I'd like to show everyone listening. Going back to that, the concept of the mental health continuum, is this final resource that we have in the guide. Now, just because someone's well doesn't mean they don't need support to stay well, so we should constantly thinking about, "How can we keep people in the green? How can we keep people well?" Then if people are struggling, how can we get them the support they need? So, this final resource in the guide, as you can see, is structured around where someone might sit across that mental health continuum, and it has some really tailored resources to match some supports available to keep them in the green.
Greg Jennings: So, for people who are well and positive and healthy and functioning, then they might have a bit more time to really focus on their business. So, they might be interested in reaching out to business advisors or having you think about how they might be able to grow their business and invest in that way. For people who are at risk and there's a moderate impact on their day-to-day functioning, there's some really fantastic supports available, things like Beyond Blue's new access program. If that's available in your area, you can access free coaching to deal with some of the stresses of day-to-day life.
Greg Jennings: Then, of course, as we've mentioned, for someone who is at this red end of the continuum and is in some need of immediate support, there's all of those supports available that we've already talked through. So, that's a really practical takeaway that you can have on hand and you can provide to your small business clients to match what the supports there and the help available for their needs.
Greg Jennings: That actually brings us to the end of today's discussion in today's tutorial. So, firstly, I'd really like to thank Tim for coming along and sharing your personal experiences and your experiences as a business advisor and as a business owner as well. I'd also like to thank everyone listening today, and hopefully, you've found some really practical tips and practical advice about things that you can take away and apply in your day-to-day interactions with small business owners. So, to finish up, Tim, what's one piece of advice that you'd like people to leave with today?
Tim Hoopman: The one piece of advice for advisors and business owners out there is please take the time to read this guide and not only read it, keep it handy. So, it's like a working document, and also complete the personal and the workplace wellbeing plans.
Greg Jennings: Fantastic. Good advice. Well, everyone, as I mentioned, this guide is now available for download. So, it's the supporting small business owners to improve their mental health and wellbeing at work, a guide for work contacts, friends and family, and you can download that at bb.org.au/smallbusiness. Download the guide, have a read through it, and you can also check out all the other fantastic resources we have for small business owners at headsup.org.au. Thanks so much for tuning in today and keep an eye on Heads Up and keep an eye on all the amazing work that we are doing with the small business community. Thank you.