Nikki Powell

The Meerkat Brain

How do you navigate the stress of being an entrepreneur? We talked to hypnotherapist and Zervant user Nikki Powell about the power of positive affirmations, and how to master our meerkat brain.

We sat down with Bolton-based life coach and Zervant customer Nikki Powell to find out more about combining business and wellness. We wanted to know not only about how she helps others, but also how her professional knowledge helps her cope with the pressures of running her own business.

So sit back, grab a brew, and prepare for smooth sailing.

How did you become an entrepreneur, Nikki?

I’d always wanted to be self-employed, doing something that involved helping others. For 20 years I’d been working in the public sector, in education, whilst doing my own projects on the side.

Then last year the pop up business school came to Bolton. Talking to them I realised that if I wanted to succeed with my own business, it’s something I’d need to do full-time. So I took the plunge!

What does a normal day look like for you?

Each day is totally different to be honest. I work with clients one on one, and do a lot of work in schools. I spend a lot of time trying to get new business, meet with my mentor, and do Facebook advertising. I also work on my website, and do invoicing using your system.

When you’re self -employed you do a lot of things in the evening. So it’s difficult to switch off.

Nikki Powell Hypnotherapist
Nikki at work in the evening

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

The flexibility to spend more time with my family. I do a lot of admin at night – but that’s my choice. Because I like to take my daughter to school, and also pick her up. I try not to work until after her bedtime.

And the worst?

Money. Having worked in education for 20 years I was on a quite a good salary, things were comfortable. But now if I take time off I’m not getting paid (say if I’m ill, or on holiday). Overall, it’s rewarding, but a lot more stressful than working for someone else.

Why did you choose Zervant for invoicing? What features were you looking for?

Admin isn’t my strong point, I didn’t have a clue how to invoice. I could’ve used Word, but Zervant is so much easier. It’s quick and professional looking. Ease of use is important for me as I’m not good with IT. I also like the fact the software is free. I looked at other solutions, but they were way more complicated and not at all what I needed.

Does the fact that you’re a hypnotherapist help you with the pressures of running your business?

Oh yes, absolutely it does.


Well first of all it taught me I need to have affirmations. You need to tell yourself “I can do this”.

Say it, and really believe it.

If I have a bad day I reach out to someone else in the business and we do hypnotherapy together. Luckily we never have a bad day at the same time!

As I mentioned I do a lot of work with children in schools. One of the first things we explain to the kids is how the brain works. The emotional side of your brain is like a meerkat – it keeps you safe and happy. It’s always on the lookout for danger. But it doesn’t know the difference between being unhappy or in danger.

This part of your brain doesn’t do language, so you need to control it with breathing techniques. This is what calms you down when you’re stressed. So I constantly try to practice my breathing, hold my breath for 20 secs. It’s important to apply this type of mindfulness in context.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs about mental well-being?

They need to think about their day, and give themselves a positive affirmation, something that reflects what they want to be.

For an entrepreneur a good affirmation might be “I’m getting good at business”. Or maybe “I’m getting more customers”. Avoid big, sweeping statements and try to pick things you can commit to.

As for combatting stress it’s really a case of finding whatever works for you. It could be going for a walk in the woods, walking your kids to school, anything really. But always remember to take a few minutes break throughout the day, just to breathe and relax.

And it’s also incredibly important to practice relaxation techniques when you’re not feeling stressed. If you only do it when feeling stressed that’s the memory that gets stored in your brain.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to manage stress in your life, why not check out Nikki’s Facebook page for tips and info. And you can read more about her “Relax Kids” project, which teaches children how to cope with stress in their lives, here

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