Owners of small and medium businesses (SMEs) might be more optimistic about the future in our current booming economy, but that doesn’t mean that the daily grind isn’t stressful.
A range of issues is keeping business owners awake at night, including business and succession planning, stress and lifestyle, cash flow and declining sales and profit.
Stress and burnout hits business owners hard
Many people go into business for lifestyle reasons with a heightened romantic concept of business and entrepreneurism and results in many people underestimating the work involved in running a business. The biggest pain point for time-pressured business owners is that work-life balance is a dream, not reality (Xero Small Business Market Study, May 2015).
The Xero 2015 survey also found that 23% of business owners had not taken a holiday in 2 years, and more than half of those admitting it was hard to take a break.
Starting a business is one of the most difficult career paths and an individual can pursue with so much uncertainty in the path being undertaken. In the early stages there is often a lot of chaos and there are lots of changes and demands on staff in the business. Then once the business grows and revenues increase, there is pressure to deliver and pressure on cash flow with the need for more staff, stock and training. More comprehensive management reports and financial controls and accountability from staff are needed.
Why you need a business plan
While 83% of NZ businesses are keen to improve their efficiency, 41% don’t have any kind of plan to make improvements (Xero Small Business Market Study, May 15). Only 30% have a written plan and 29% have a plan in their head. Most claim they feel too swamped by the everyday pressures of operating their business to develop a plan. Many don’t plan because they don’t know where to begin, so they wing it.
However, a business plan can reduce your level of stress. It can help provide focus on the direction of your business and is a key tool in influencing financial providers to secure you finance for growth.
SMEs should seek an external adviser who can benchmark their performance relative to other similar businesses, then help them set some real goals and establish a plan for how to reach them.
Four top tips to lower your stress levels
- Take a break– a holiday can bring down stress levels
- Exercise– Exercise is key to helping you reduce stress
- Create a business plan– A one-page business plan can be produced in an afternoon and help you save time by getting you to focus on the things that count. It will set you clear on
- What you’d like to achieve
- Areas causing problems that need improvement
- How you’re going to do it and
- Which experts to tap into for best practical advice
4. Share your burden with someone who can help. If you don’t have a trusted advisor who can work with you, it might be time to find someone