Category Archives: Minority Business News

The Kroger Co. Foundation Announces $3 Million Racial Equity Fund Partners

Foundation collectively invests $3 million to advance racial equity through partnerships with Black Girl Ventures, Everytable, LISC and Thurgood Marshall College Fund

The Kroger Co. Foundation (“Foundation”) has announced the recipients of its Racial Equity Fund “Build It Together” grant challenge, an initiative awarding $3 million in grants and forging partnerships with innovative organizations to help build more equitable, inclusive communities. This initiative reflects a focus area of Kroger’s Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, a ten-point commitment announced in October of 2020 to accelerate and promote greater change in the workplace and in the communities the company serves.

The Foundation invited 14 organizations to apply for up to $1 million in funding through the Build It Together grant challenge, which welcomed organizations to submit proposals aimed at positively uplifting, supporting and impacting communities of color. A panel of judges, including Kroger associates and leaders, external partners, and local community foundations, evaluated the proposals and selected four finalists that collectively will receive $3 million to accelerate their visions.

“We launched our Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan with the goal of harnessing Kroger’s collective energy to advance racial equality in our culture and our communities,” said Keith Dailey, Kroger’s group vice president of corporate affairs and president of The Kroger Co. Foundation. “The intent of The Kroger Co. Foundation’s Racial Equity Fund is to catalyze innovative approaches to help create more equitable, inclusive and stronger communities. The Build It Together cohort reflects a group of enterprising organizations that are committed to creating lasting change for communities of color. We’re honored to partner with them.”

The Kroger Co. Foundation’s Build It Together grant recipients include:

  1. Black Girl Ventures (Washington, D.C.)
    Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneur and computer scientist Shelly Bell, Black Girl Ventures’ (BGV) mission is to provide Black and Brown women founders with access to community, capital, and capacity building to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship. BGV scales tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses under $1 million to create racial and gender equity and an inclusive free market. BGV operates five chapters (Birmingham, ALDurham, NCHouston, TXMiami, FL; and Philadelphia, PA) and has funded over 130 Black and Brown women, held over 30 BGV pitch programs across 12 cities, leveraging over $600,000 in funding, and served more than 600 participants.
    BGV will use its $500,000 Build It Together grant to launch two Change Agent Fellowship cohorts, respectively in Cincinnati, OH and Detroit, MI, to achieve the mutual goal of increasing racial equity. The program expands the capacity of Black and Brown women founders, connecting them with sponsors, mentors and peers and providing training through entrepreneurship workshops and access to BGV’s network of investors and partners.
  2. Everytable (Los Angeles, CA)
    Everytable’s groundbreaking social franchise model is pioneering a new way to produce food that dramatically reduces the cost of healthy, fresh, and prepared meals, providing a viable alternative to fast food. The organization’s mission is to transform the food system to make fresh, delicious food accessible to everyone, everywhere through grab-and-go storefront markets in communities with extreme scarcity of healthy food options. Everytable’s social equity franchise program removes barriers to business ownership for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs with the goal to eliminate racial wealth disparities and expand access to healthy food. 
    Everytable will use its $1 million Build It Together grant to expand an innovative public-private funding structure to spur an increase in business ownership for Black entrepreneurs, and people of color (POC) broadly, with the goal of opening 40 POC-owned franchises over the next two years.
  3. LISC (New York, NY)
    The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the country’s largest community development organization. With offices in 36 cities and a rural program that serves over 2,200 counties in 45 states, LISC’s dedicated team is committed to creating economic opportunity for all.
    LISC will use its $500,000 Build It Together grant to launch a long-term partnership to advance Project 10X, the organization’s ambitious strategy to close the racial health, wealth, and opportunity gaps in America. The organization’s proposal aims to support food-system businesses and community organizations working for equitable food access, led by and serving Black, Indigenous and people of color.
  4. Thurgood Marshall College Fund (Washington, D.C.)
    Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black college community.  TMCF member schools include publicly supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs). Publicly supported HBCUs enroll over 80% of all students attending HBCUs. Through scholarships, capacity building, strategic partnerships, and innovative planning, TMCF serves as a critical access point for students, from college to career.
    TMCF will use its $1 million Build It Together grant to adapt its successful innovation and entrepreneurship program to focus on food insecurity and food waste, particularly in low-income and underserved Black communities. The challenge will combine the program model to bring the winning ideas to market, leveraging expertise from Kroger and its partners like Feeding America, as well as the community focus of HBCUs and the research capacity of these educational institutions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HBCU leadership is focused more than ever on harnessing expertise to address basic needs – food, shelter, and health – for communities.

The Build It Together cohort will leverage funding from the Foundation to implement innovative programs and initiatives over the next 12 months and beyond.

“We’re eager to partner with these four exceptional organizations to create a brighter, more equitable future for the communities we serve,” said Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Foundation. “As a purpose-led organization, we know that actions speak louder than words. We remain committed to not only illuminating the important, impactful work of groups like these but also sharing our resources and delivering on the promises of our Framework for Action to accelerate meaningful change in our culture and country.”

To learn more about Kroger’s Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, visit

SOURCE The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR)

Citizens Bank Announces $1.5 Million Grant Program for Minority-Owned Small Businesses

Citizens Bank to award 100 minority-owned businesses with grants of $15,000 each

Citizens Bank has announced that it will award grants to minority-owned small businesses in recognition of the value that they bring as a vital part of our communities. With this program, Citizens will award 100 grants of $15,000 each ($1.5 million total) to 100 minority-owned businesses (customers and non-customers) across the Citizens 11 state footprint (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont), extending its ongoing small business grant program.

“These grants, part of our ongoing $10 million commitment to promote social equity and advance economic opportunity, extend our promise to building stronger communities in which we operate and are aimed specifically at minority owned businesses to help them realize the positive impact small businesses have in those areas,” said Jack Murphy, President, Business Banking, Citizens Bank.

This program will also include a partnership opportunity (optional to the grant recipient) with Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. If the recipient opts in, SCORE will match the business with a mentor to help build and sustain success.

Small Business Grant Program Details:

What: The Citizens Bank Minority-Owned Small Business Grant Program provides assistance to minority-owned businesses within Citizens Bank’s 11 state footprint. Grant Amounts: 100 grants total, each for $15,000, for total of $1.5 million.

Who: Open to both Citizens business banking customers and other businesses who are not Citizens customers in our branch footprint. This grant will be open to businesses that are at least 51% minority-owned, operated and controlled by an individual who is Asian American, Black American, Hispanic American or Native American, in business a minimum of 1 year, with annual revenue up to $1 million.

When: Applications for grants will open Monday, August 3, 2020, 10:00 AM ET – Friday, August 7, 2020, 5 PM ET. Grant award recipients and disbursement of funds will occur in mid-September.

Where: To enter, please visit

How: Applicants can submit a 150-word essay answering the following question:

How would you use this grant to strengthen your business and community?

Entrants will be judged by the following criteria:

  • Perceived effectiveness of entrant’s plan to use the grant to strengthen and sustain their business (40%)
  • Perceived effectiveness of entrant’s plan to use the grant to help their community (40%)
  • Appropriateness to grant program theme and Citizens Bank brand image (20%)

Source: Citizens Bank

SBA Issues New Rules for WOSB Federal Contracting Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has published Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program regulations that will provide a free, online certification and eligibility application process for women-owned small businesses and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The timeline for implementation of changes to SBA’s WOSB program has been delayed to accommodate those affected by the current pandemic.

Starting July 15, 2020, SBA will begin to implement changes consistent with the Small Business Act as amended in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. In addition to the certification requirement for firms seeking WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside contracts, the regulations detail certification options for applicants and require authorized third-party certifiers to notify applicants of their fees and the option to use SBA’s free online certification process.


Below are some important timelines for firms to keep in mind:

  • The current self-certification process will remain available for firms until October 15, 2020,  in;
  • Between now and July 15, 2020, WOSBs must download their documentation, currently housed in the WOSB Program Repository, from;
  • On July 15, 2020, firms can begin submitting applications for initial processing; and
  • On October 15, 2020, SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification.

The regulations detail important changes to the certification process, including the following:

  • Allows participation from firms certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center of Verification and Evaluations, provided they meet all eligibility requirements;
  • Confirms the continued participation of approved third-party certifiers;
  • Eliminates the self-certification option from, effective October 15, 2020; and
  • Adopts a $750,000 net worth standard when assessing economic disadvantage for individuals in the 8(a) Business Development Program (8(a) Program). Additionally, funds invested in official retirement accounts are excluded from the analysis of an economically-disadvantaged individual’s personal net worth in both the WOSB and 8(a) Programs. This makes the economic disadvantage threshold and analysis consistent for EDWOSBs and 8(a) Program participants.


The new WOSB Program regulations will make it easier and more efficient for contracting officers to set aside and make awards to firms certified as WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will better empower agencies to meet the 5% federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses.


About the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Program

To learn more about how the SBA supports women entrepreneurs, visit

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit

The Small Business Credit Crunch

credit cruch A significant share of locally owned businesses are struggling to secure the financing they need to grow.  A 2014 Independent Business Survey found that 42 percent of local businesses that needed a loan in the previous two years had been unable to obtain one.  Another survey by the National Small Business Association likewise found that 43 percent of small businesses who had sought a loan in the preceding four years were unsuccessful.  Among those who did obtain financing, the survey found, “twenty-nine percent report having their loans or lines of credit reduced in the last four years and nearly one in 10 had their loan or line of credit called in early by the bank.”

Other research shows that the businesses having the most difficult time financing their growth are those owned by women and minorities, startups, and very small businesses (under 20 employees).

One consequence of this credit shortage is that many small businesses are not adequately capitalized and thus are more vulnerable to failing.  Moreover, a growing number of small businesses are relying on high-cost alternatives to conventional bank loans, including credit cards, to finance their growth.  In 1993, only 16 percent of business owners reported relying on credit cards for financing in a federal survey.  By 2008, that figure had jumped to 44 percent.

The difficulty small businesses are having in obtaining financing is a major concern for the economy.  Historically, about two-thirds of net new job creation has come from small business growth.  Studies show locally owned businesses contribute significantly to the economic well-being and social capital of communities.  Yet, the number of new start-up businesses has fallen by one-fifth over the last 30 years (adjusted for population change), as has the overall number and market share of small local firms.  Inadequate access to loans and financing is one of the factors driving this trend.

Sources of Small Business Financing

Unlike large corporations, which have access to the equity and bond markets for financing, small businesses depend primarily on credit.  About three-quarters of small business credit comes from traditional financial institutions (banks and credit unions).  The rest comes primarily from finance companies and vendors.

At the beginning of 2014, banks and credit unions had about $630 billion in small business loans — commonly defined as business loans under $1 million — on their books, according to FDIC.  “Micro” business loans — those under $100,000 — account for a little less than one-quarter of this, or about $150 billion. (One caveat about this data: Because of the way the FDIC publishes its data, this figure includes not only installment loans, but credit provided through small business credit cards.)

Banks provide the lion’s share of small business credit, about 93 percent. But there is significant variation in small business lending based on bank size.  Small and mid-sized banks hold only 21 percent of bank assets, but account for 54 percent of all the credit provided to small businesses.  As bank size increases, their support of small businesses declines, with the biggest banks devoting very little of their assets to small business loans.  The top 4 banks (Bank of America, Wells, Citi, and Chase) control 43 percent of all banking assets, but provide only 16 percent of small business loans. (See this graph.)

Credit unions account for only a small share of small business lending, but they have expanded their role significantly over the last decade.  Credit unions had $44 billion in small business loans on their books in 2013, accounting for 7 percent of the total small business loan volume by financial institutions.  That’s up from $13.5 billion in 2004.  Although small business lending at credit unions is growing, only a minority of credit unions participate in this market.   About two-thirds of credit unions do not make any small business loans.

Crowd-funding has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as a potential solution to the small business credit crunch.  However, it’s worth noting that crowd-funding remains a very modest sliver of small business financing.  While crowd-funding will undoubtedly grow in the coming years, at present, it equals only about one-fifth of 1 percent of the small business loans made by traditional financial institutions.  Crowd-funding and other alternative financing vehicles may be valuable innovations, but they do not obviate the need to address the structural problems in our banking system that are impeding local business development.

Shrinking Credit Availability for Small Businesses

Since 2000, the overall volume of business lending per capita at banks has grown by 26 percent (adjusted for inflation).  But this expansion has entirely benefited large businesses.  Small business loan volume at banks is down 14 percent and micro business loan volume is down 33 percent.  While credit flows to larger businesses have returned to their pre-recession highs, small business lending continues to decline and is well below its pre-recession level.  Growth in lending by credit unions has only partially closed this gap.

There are multiple factors behind this decline in small business lending, some set in motion by the financial crisis and some that reflect deeper structural problems in the financial system.

Following the financial collapse, demand for small business loans, not surprisingly, declined. At the same time, lending standards tightened dramatically, so those businesses that did see an opportunity to grow during the recession had a harder time gaining approval for a loan.  According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Survey of Credit Underwriting Practices, banks tightened business lending standards in 2008, 2009, and 2010.  In 2011 and 2012, lending standards for big businesses were loosened, but lending standards for small businesses continued to tighten, despite the beginnings of the recovery.  These tightened standards were driven in part by increased scrutiny by regulators.  In the aftermath of the financial crisis, regulators began looking at small business loans more critically and demanding that banks raise the bar.  Many small businesses also became less credit-worthy as their cash flows declined and their real estate collateral lost value.

All of these recession-related factors, however, do not address the longer-running decline in small business lending.  Fifteen years ago, small business lending accounted for half of bank lending to businesses.  Today, that figure is down to 29 percent. The main culprit is bank consolidation.  Small business lending is the bread-and-butter of local community banks.  As community banks disappear — their numbers have shrunk by nearly one-third over the last 15 years and their share of bank assets has been cut in half — there are fewer lenders who focus on small business lending and fewer resources devoted to it.

It’s not simply that big banks have more lucrative ways to deploy their assets.  Part of the problem is that their scale inhibits their ability to succeed in the small business market. While other types of loans, such as mortgages and car loans, are highly automated, relying on credit scores and computer models, successfully making small business loans depends on having access to “soft” information about the borrower and the local market.  While small banks, with their deep community roots, have this in spades, big banks are generally flying blind when it comes to making a nuanced assessment of the risk that a particular local business in a particular local market will fail. As a result, compared to local community banks, big banks have a higher default rate on the small business loans they do make and a lower return on their portfolios, and they devote far less of their resources to this market.

More than thirty years of federal and state banking policy has fostered mergers and consolidation in the industry on the grounds that bigger banks are more efficient, more effective, and, ultimately, better for the economy.  But banking consolidation has in fact constricted the flow of credit to the very businesses that nourish the economy and create new jobs.

SBA Loan Guarantees

One small but important part of the small business credit market are loans guaranteed by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  The goal of federal SBA loan guarantees is to enable banks and other qualified lenders to make loans to small businesses that fall just shy of meeting conventional lending criteria, thus expanding the number of small businesses that are able to obtain financing.  These guarantees cost taxpayers very little as the program costs, including defaults, are covered by fees charged to borrowers.

The SBA’s flagship loan programs is the 7(a) program, which guarantees up to 85 percent of loans under $150,000 and up to 75 percent of loans greater than $150,000 made to new and expanding small businesses.  The SBA’s maximum standard loan under the 7(a) program is $5 million, raised from $2 million in 2010.  The SBA’s other major loan program is 504 program, which provides loans for commercial real estate development for small businesses.  Under these two programs, the SBA approved loans valued at $23 billion in 2013, amounting to 3.7 percent of small business lending.  (The 7(a) program accounts for almost 80 percent of this.)

Although the SBA’s loan guarantees account for a small share of overall lending, they play a disproportionate role in credit access for some types of small businesses.  According to a 2008 analysis by the Urban Institute, compared to conventional small business loans, a significantly larger share of SBA-guaranteed loans go to startups, very small businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses.

SBA loans also provide significantly longer terms, which improve cash flow and thus can make the difference between success and failure.  More than 80 percent of 7(a) loans have maturities greater than 5 years, and 10 percent have maturities greater than 20 years.  This compares to conventional small business loans, almost half of which have maturities of less than a year and fewer than one in five have terms of five years or more.

Although federal guarantees are particularly important for very small businesses, which are having an especially tough time in the conventional loan market, the SBA has dramatically reduced its support for very small businesses over the last few years and shifted more of its loan guarantees to larger small businesses.  (The SBA’s definition of a “small” business varies by sector, but can be quite large.  Retailers in certain categories, for example, can have up to $21 million in annual sales and still be counted as small businesses.) The number of 7(a) loans under $150,000 has declined precipitously.  In the mid 2000s, the SBA guaranteed about 80,000 of these loans each year, and their total value accounted for about 25 percent of the loans made under the program.  By 2013, that had dropped to 24,000 loans comprising

just 8 percent of total 7(a) loan volume.  Meanwhile, the average loan size in the program doubled, from $180,000 in 2005 to $362,000 in 2013.

What has caused this dramatic shift is not entirely clear.  Although the SBA claims it has tried to structure its programs to benefit the smallest borrowers, critics point to policy changes in 2010 that raised the 7(a) loan cap from $2 million to $5 million. The move, which large banks advocated, has helped drive the average loan size up and the number of loans down.

Policy Solutions

1.  Increase the Number & Market Share of Community Banks

Policymakers should enact policies to strengthen and expand community banks, which provide the bulk of small business loans but are shrinking in both number and market share.  At the federal level, we encourage regulators to address the disproportionate toll that regulations adopted in the wake of the financial crisis are taking on small banks, adopt measures to reduce concentration in the banking system, and increase new bank charter approvals, which have plummeted in recent years.  At the state level, policymakers should consider the advantages of creating a publicly owned partnership bank, modeled on the Bank of North Dakota, which has boosted the numbers and market share of small private banks in the state, and, in turn, led to significantly higher levels of small business lending than in the rest of the country.

2. Allow Credit Unions to Make More Small Business Loans

Current regulations limit business loans to no more than 12.5 percent of a credit union’s assets.  Although some have called for lifting this cap, AIB favors another proposal, which would exempt loans to businesses with fewer than 20 employees from the cap.  This would ensure that new credit union lending benefits truly small businesses, rather than simply expanding large business lending by a few large national credit unions (the only ones close to hitting the current cap).

3. Reform SBA Loan Guarantee Programs

The SBA should return to the previous size cap of $2 million on 7(a) loans and adopt other reforms to ensure that federal loan guarantees provide more support to very small businesses.  The SBA should also shift a share of its loan guarantees into programs that are designed primarily or exclusively for small community banks, which specialize in small business lending.


New Obamacare Exchange Rules


New Obamacare Rule Bans Employers From “Dumping” Workers on the Exchange

Employers who planned on dealing with Obamacare by giving employees a tax-free stipend to buy health insurance on public exchanges could face big fines.

Some employers thought they’d found a smart way to deal with Obamacare: Give employees a tax-free stipend to buy health insurance on the public exchange.

The Internal Revenue Service, however, just put the kibosh on that plan.

A new IRS rule bans employers from “dumping” their employees on the health insurance exchanges through a common arrangement called employer payment plans, according to The New York Times. The Obama administration clearly saw the writing on the wall: More companies have considered dropping their employer-sponsored health coverage due to Obamacare and requiring employees to buy coverage on their own—and it wanted to nip that practice in the bud.

To be clear: The new rule doesn’t prohibit employers from giving their employees stipends to pay for health insurance. It just prohibits them from using after-tax dollars to pay for it. ( offers a helpful Q&A about the new federal rule.)

Employers who break the new rule may face hefty tax penalties of $100 a day—or $36,500 a year—for each employee who loses health insurance and is sent to the exchange, according to an IRS Q&A.

Some recent reports have predicted that many employers subject to the Obamacare employer mandate would drop their health insurance and send employees to the exchange. This rule makes that option far less attractive.

Some employers have used the tax-free lump-sum model of providing employees health insurance for many years, so the new IRS rule also effectively means those plans are not compliant with Obamacare and those employers will either need to buy workers health insurance or pay a fine.

“For decades, employers have been assisting employees by reimbursing them for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs,” Andrew Biebl, a tax partner at Minneapolis- based tax firm CliftonLarsonAllen told the Times. “The new federal ruling eliminates many of those arrangements by imposing an unusually punitive penalty.”

The new ruling also suggests that Obama isn’t so keen on moving away from an employer-based health insurance system after all. Some health policies experts have speculated that the delay of Obamacare’s employer mandate suggested the president hoped to steer the United States away from employer-sponsored coverage and toward one where individuals are responsible for buying their own health insurance—a move some health policy experts support.

But this rule clearly aims to ensure businesses continue to buy their workers health insurance and stops employers from seeking more-affordable alternatives for dealing with Obamacare.

Source of New Obamacare Exchange Rules: OpenForum

Minority Contractors Exceed Federal Goals

New FedEx report finds that minority contractors exceed federal goals:

In fiscal 2012, small disadvantaged businesses exceeded the government’s spending goal of 5 percent, hitting 8 percent, or $32.3 billion, in contract spending.

Looking at the time and money that minority business owners invested in contracts, as well as breaking down their contract performance activity over the past few years, American Express OPEN was able to distinguish minority small businesses from other small businesses, and even certain designations among minority small businesses.

The survey of 684 small business owners in February and March 2013 focuses on trends in federal contracting among minority-owned small businesses, and provides a view of how small businesses stack up against one another.

Key findings include:

Minority business owners invest more time and money in finding contracts than all active small business government contractors. In 2012, for example, minority business owners invested $143,356, which is 11 percent higher than the $128,628 that all small firms invested. This figure is also 32 percent higher than the investment that minority contractors made in 2009.

However, the investment gap between minority and non-minority firms has declined over the past three years because non-minority-owned firms have seen a 55 percent increase in their procurement investment. Bidding activity has declined for minority and non-minority owned contractors alike, the report found.

Minority contractors are increasing their contract performance activity, reporting a higher level of contract activity compared to five years ago: Thirty-nine percent of minority contractors have increased their activity compared to the 29 percent of non-minority contractors. This is mainly among Asian American and Hispanic contractors, with a 52 percent majority of each reporting that they are busier now than in 2008.

Minority contractors are also performing on 3.2 contracts at the present time, which beats the 2.2 contracts that non-minority contractors are performing on, according to the American Express report.

Minority small business contractors, especially African American and Latino contractors, are more likely to leverage the designations and certifications available to them, with 86 percent of active minority small business contractors having at least one of ten tested government certifications, compared to the 68 percent that non-minority contractors have.

The top three certifications are the GSA schedule (27 percent), self-certifying as a woman-owned small business (24 percent), and self-certifying as a minority-owned small business (21 percent), according to the report.

Minority business owners have also claimed that being in a HUBZone, being a veteran-owned small business, and being a woman-owned small business has been useful to them.

Stress Relief for Busy Professionals

gym fitnessThere is no question about it, we live in a stressful business world. Sources of stress are plentiful and varied. Paradoxically, the sources of stress can be both happy and sad events. In spite of that, stress generators are inevitable.


Work can produce the never-ending pressure of chronic stress. When this happens the body constantly releases the stress hormones of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. If this is not controlled, chronic stress can eventually kill us. However, there are tactics and techniques to deal with the unrelenting combination of stressors, work, relationships, financial pressures and domestic situations.


One of the most important factors in tolerating stress is optimism. The belief that things will improve in the future. The second most important factor is the ability to choose behavior for coping with stress in such a way that you can control or influence the stressful situation by keeping calm and maintaining control.


Optimism and stress tolerance are very closely linked. If you are strong in one area then you will develop mastery in the other. It is imperative that you maintain a positive and optimistic outlook on life and have the confidence that you will successfully cope with life’s challenges.


Stress tolerance has an important influence on your ability to sustain the quality of your life. If you cannot tolerate stress, then you cannot enjoy a high quality of life. Constant stress leads to physical and psychological damage and severely limits your effectiveness in the workplace. Stress reduces creativity and productivity as well as limiting decision-making options. From a managerial or executive point of view, stress is the number one enemy of business effectiveness.


What most managers and executives don’t realize is that there is a strong relationship between stress management and impulse control. When you control your impulses, you are reducing your potential stress factors.


Learn the techniques to manage the psychological and physiological impacts of stress. Develop the methods of structured breathing and optimistic visualisation. Refuse to be drawn into the heat of stressful situations. Take time out to think and consider rather than just react. Get more exercise. Check out someone who tolerates stress well. Go and talk to them and find out how they do it.


Think “laid-back.” Develop a response mechanism to crises. Practice a “laid-back” response. When faced with a potentially tense situation, pause and then produce your “laid-back” response.


Another strategy is to move from stress producing to stress reducing activities, these may include recreation, exercise or even short but frequent vacations. Often because of time pressures, busy executives and managers often avoid stressful issues instead of trying to sort them out using constructive discussion. If you can improve your ability to resolve difficult issues, then you can deal with these matters without being unduly stressed.


Finally, the most important stress buster is humor. Use generous doses of humor during difficult situations. If it is not the appropriate publicly, then when you review the situation privately, look for the funny side. Humor produces endorphins in your bloodstream which are the perfect counter to the stress hormones. It is virtually impossible to be completely stressed out if you are laughing.

-Stress Relief for Busy Professionals