Mental Toughness: Navigating SME Challenges in Unprecedented Times

6 Dec 2023
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Dear SME,

I would like you to pause and see if you can relate to any of the following situations…

Have you ever lost someone?

Have you had your heart broken?

Struggled through a divorce?

Have you been bullied?
Lived through a traumatic event?
Had a miscarriage, struggled with fertility?
And finally, have you experienced or know of anyone dealing with mental illness, disease or suicide?
Adversity doesn’t discriminate. We all have experienced, some sort of trauma and it is how we handle it that makes us who we are. 
“Life is tough. You are tougher. Life is persistent. You are relentless.” Nella Pang
Running a business is a constant rollercoaster, anyone that tells you it is easy, is lying. It’s 100% rewarding, but it definitely comes with its challenges and pitfalls, especially when you throw adversity into the mix which is out of your control. For those that don’t know me, I am Nella Pang, a commercial chartered surveyor, located in Southampton, carrying out national acquisitions and disposals throughout the UK. I am the managing director of Omega RE having set up in 2020, leaving the corporate safety net after 17 years, to go solo. 
Fast forward to 2023, Omega RE  are now a team of 4 and we are slowly growing the business and looking for another 2 individuals. In 3 years we have done 21 acquisitions totalling around 210,000 sq ft from York to Poole to Norwich and we are just about to do our first international acquisition in Brussels.  
We have advised on some forward-thinking repositioning schemes, led by health and wellbeing, ESG and end users and we were the team behind the largest UK clean air mural at The Bulb in Southampton creating an environment that is focused on the STEM community.  For those that don’t know, the paint that we use extracts CO2 out of the atmosphere! So we have been busy.
For me, it is the sheer willpower to push through to resist, manage and overcome doubts, worries, concerns and circumstances that prevent you from succeeding or reaching your goal.The comments I get all the time. How do you find the time? My short answer is when you have no choice you find the time. I hear many thinking,  “We all have a choice”.But adversity pushes you to either break or break the mould. I chose to break the mould. I have always done so and everything I do, is to do better, be better, and give back. So I hope that gives you a backdrop of why I have no choice but to succeed. 
Developing the mental toughness to pick yourself up, and find the silver lining in every situation isn’t easy. But running your own business, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  There are definitely days that I miss the corporate world. Duvet Days, 12 months maternity pay!
Hearing the words you have skin cancer – I thought “Are you for real? I just left the corporate safety net, I have no private medical insurance, and I have a young son that I don’t want to leave behind.” So I did what I did best, I focused on committing to my goals, Omega RE – I felt this urgency to leave a legacy to my son. So for the last few years, I’ve thrown myself into my business. and I have been on a mission to make a difference in my industry, how I do business and to live my life in the present.

However, juggling work and family has been tough, the career guilt and mum guilt never go away. And running a business can be a lonely place. The perception that you have more time because you are your own boss. But I am juggling 10 plates; 

  1. HR
  2. Marketing
  3. Legal & Compliance
  4. Business Development
  5. Finance
  6. General Admin
  7. Day job 
  8. Mum Duties
  9. House chores 
  10. Life admin 



Self awareness is critical.  Knowing your mind and body to understand your limits is important.  As for operating any business, cash flow is king and the difficulties of understanding when you need to employ help vs operating a lean machine will have many people questioning their decision.  It can be paralysing and overwhelming, so make sure you speak to those who have done it and get a support network to ask questions. 
I recently discussed this with my business coach and we allocated pound signs against my roles above on what makes more money. 
So all the £1 signs we crossed through and these are the areas that I need to remove from my list and seek support with.  When I debate spending money on resources vs my time, I realise that my personal life has been suffering. I haven’t been able to strike a balance between my health and well-being.  And anyone with children will know how relentless raising children is.  The sleepless night, the endless piles of laundry, picking food off the floor.  And as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Setting time aside for yourself is key.  If the person behind the business is not functioning 100%, then the business is likely to suffer. The road is not often straightforward but everything is possible.



What life has taught me is that you can’t control everything, as much as you try. Life has a way of throwing obstacles and it is how we handle these situations that makes us stronger. I’ve totally embraced vulnerability and what I would tell my younger self:
  • Give yourself a break
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself as you are running your own race.
  • You don’t need validation from anyone but you. 

Creating a company, that I truly believe in and representing what we stand for has been so rewarding.  But it can be difficult competing with the larger corporates, with the bigger budgets, the freebies and corporate packages, but SMEs provide a unique offering to employees who want to make a difference.  Being able to disrupt your niche markets, and having the agility to be flexible and pivot with the market is key. I was fearful that I would not be able to secure the same level of corporate clients I had before, but that has not been the case.  Some clients followed me, some did not.  Today, I fully accept that you win some and you lose some and it is nothing personal, it is just business. 

Don’t get me wrong, it feels like a sucker punch when we don’t win opportunities, but ask for feedback and learn from the experience.  I have come to realise that every pitch document we have prepared, has been refined, researched, and further adapted. Nothing we prepare goes to waste. Think of it as CPD or content marketing. And every job we secure means the world, it shines through in our advice, energy and how we do business.  Our client can see the authenticity and how much we care. This goes a long way.  
So although I have a strong 20-year reputation, the problem that I personally had, was that I am a woman and a recent mum.  People presumed that I was going to be a part timer, doing it as a hobby. It is a risk for corporate companies to work with an unknown entity. So I committed to building our brand, homing into our niche, and making sure we are partnering with the right people so that they start acting as our army of business development. Our brand across social media is strong. We developed our podcast which ranks top 5% of global podcasts so that we can have insightful conversations with key stakeholders, which doubles up as content and research pieces.
I believe in positive affirmations and believing that anything we set our minds to is possible.  We just need to believe.  I think being an SME you have to have huge self-belief otherwise your business is not going to succeed. We have to set boundaries, turn up the dial of self-awareness and acknowledge what we need in our lives. 
“Setting time aside for yourself is key. Because if the person behind the business is not functioning 100%, then the business is likely to suffer.” Nella Pang

In the last 3 years, the main things I have learnt:

  • Factor in cashflow and clients with 90-day payment agreements.
  • make sure you are paying the tax into the right HMRC account! HMRC has two!
  • Know your value and don’t be afraid to say no to a client.
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate so you can work on what you are best at.
  • Know your overheads, so you can forecast correctly.
  • The market moves quickly, you have to innovate and learn or you will get left behind.
  • Network is your net worth, people I met years ago eventually need someone like you, or they know someone that does. 
  • And surround yourself with positivity – the people you employ, your partners, as ultimately you get to make up your A team.  And my team are integral to Omega RE’s success. 

But most importantly… Focus on YOU.I hope I haven’t bored you with my story, but I hope it will encourage you to share your experience and lean into vulnerability. Navigating the challenging waters of SME ownership isn’t easy, but it’s possible. By adapting, innovating, and learning from success stories, SMEs can not only survive but also thrive, even in the face of a pandemic and personal health challenges. 

I would like to leave you with some lasting questions…
What does success look like for you?
What do I want to be known for? 
What are my top 3 values? 
And are you living in a way that represents those values?
PRESENTATION: Mental Toughness: Navigating SME Challenges in Unprecedented Times

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About Nella Pang

I left the corporate world in 2020 and launched Omega RE a commercial advisory firm in a pandemic, whilst on maternity. Brave some people would say. 🚀

The pandemic has taught many of us a thing or two, particularly on how we can do business. I support businesses to navigate the complexities of Commercial Real Estate, so they can achieve their business objectives through their Real Estate decisions.

Lease negotiations can be a minefield. Even small mistakes can drive up costs. That’s why I will represent your interests every step of the way, ensuring you receive the full value of our experience and market knowledge.

With over 18 years’ experience in the Commercial Property Market having worked for the big corporates Jones Lang LaSalle Limited, BNP Paribas Real Estate and Vail Williams.

I want to be able to share my corporate knowledge with my clients, whilst offering a more personal dedicated commercial advisory service.

Having acted for a wide range of clients from major pension funds to private investors, small businesses and individuals. I love meeting people and I am passionate about adding value to my clients business and watching their business thrive.


About Omega RE

Omega RE is a commercial property advisory firm based on the South Coast. Providing expert advice to Landlords, Occupiers in the industrial, office and retail markets.

Omega RE is always thinking ‘Outside the Box’ in our advice to clients and the way we do business. We don’t settle for mediocre, we challenge the norm and are dedicated to finding solutions that is best for our clients.

We are a people business, based on strong relationships and partnerships, and we offer a personal level of service.

As the market evolves, we will too adapt to be successful and want the same for our clients. We are committed to finding innovative ways of marketing and how to do things more efficiently.

We will never stagnate.

We are disciplined in everything we do, we take time to understand the situation and set a bespoke strategy for each client. Not one size fits all. We do not cut corners or take shortcuts and our integrity is undisputed.

Providing clients’ with a hands-on approach to finding the perfect property; office, industrial, warehouse or retail space to meet business needs and negotiating the best commercial lease terms, is what we do best.

We come to work because we’re passionate about providing expert, innovative, independent advice to clients. We want to help businesses navigate the complexities of Commercial Real Estate.

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Twitter @omega_renews


Facebook @omegare6

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