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When The Going Gets Tough, Business Owners Step Up

February 23, 2021

By Kim Bode, originally featured in SBAM’s FOCUS Magazine

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you’re gonna be ok. If there is one thing we can thank 2020 for, it’s erasing the stigma around mental health. Every single one of us is experiencing mental health struggles, whether you refer to it as work from home fatigue, pandemic fatigue, depression, exhaustion or whatever; it’s hard.

The amount of crushing pressure business owners are experiencing right now is ridiculous. We have had to become master Executive Order interpreters, therapists, cleaning supply procurement specialists, negotiators, hype men, half-glass-full people, mind readers, master problem solvers, solution providers, Zoom prodigies…and the list goes on.

My job, as a business owner, is to ensure my staff has the resources they need to not only perform their job, but to feel supported. It’s an ongoing process as we continue to be faced with…well, 2020.

Here is the message I shared with my team at 8THIRTYFOUR:

Create some boundaries. Identify a work schedule that works best for you and designate your “on” and “off” hours.

Focus on accomplishing your to-do list for each day.

Try not to procrastinate. It can cause unnecessary guilt.

Create something to look forward to every day and reward yourself when you achieve it.

Take a walk or just take a break for a little while. Don’t feel like you need to be glued to your computer.

Here is what we implemented company wide:

Mental health days: If you need a day, take it. 

Weekly check-ins. We’ve always been a communicative team, but more so now than ever before. Our president has bi-weekly check-ins with each employee, and we touch base Monday and Friday as a team. We make time for “feelings,” and we ask each other if we are okay.

G-Chat: While not a new tool for us, it has definitely helped keep the lines of communication open and we make it a point to connect.

Connecting to just connect. We get together, via Zoom, and play games. We drink some wine, laugh and just decompress. Quiplash has been our saving grace (check out Quiplash:

When all of this first started, I sent packages bi-weekly to staff member’s homes. I sent a journal with notecards, an inspirational book, and an adult coloring book and markers. It was as much for me as for them; I wanted them to know how much I appreciated them. Now that we are entering month eight or nine (or maybe it’s 10?) of this, I know I need to work even harder to ensure we are all okay.

I honestly don’t believe things are going to get easier any time soon. Depressing? Maybe. Guys, we’ve gotta have a little faith in our ability to do tough things. How we came out of 2020 will determine how we handle 2021—kicking and screaming, or with our middle finger extended and a smile on our face. I don’t know about you, but I’m going with the latter.

Bode loves small businesses and West Michigan, so she spends a lot of her time happy houring and advocating for both through SBAM’s Legislative Action Council and Leadership Council.

Supporting women is Bode’s passion and she lives this out by serving on the Inforum Regional Council and their event committee. She is also a board advisor for Women in Defense and a board member for the Cascade Community Foundation.

When Bode isn’t networking and serving, she can be found on the airwaves, either through her monthly segment on WGVU Radio or the ever-entertaining Happy Hour Hustle podcast. She also contributes to Huffington Post, Thrive and other publications. Visit for a peek at Bode’s agency.

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