How to overcome your business struggles
New research reveals just how tough it is to be a small business owner. Adrienne Church offers some simple steps for succeeding in the face of adversity. Being a small business owner undoubtedly has its perks. At the most fundamental level, being your own boss means having the freedom to decide how you work, and […]
New research reveals just how tough it is to be a small business owner. Adrienne Church offers some simple steps for succeeding in the face of adversity.
Being a small business owner undoubtedly has its perks.
At the most fundamental level, being your own boss means having the freedom to decide how you work, and who you work with – whether that’s colleagues, customers or suppliers – and beyond that, it affords you the opportunity to determine the culture, values and principles that define your place of work.
And as the numbers clearly suggest, it’s a lifestyle that has immense appeal for Kiwis. At MBIE’s last count, in 2017, there were nearly half a million small business organisations in New Zealand. Small businesses make up more than 97 percent of all New Zealand businesses, employing more than 600,000 of us, right around the country.
However, as any small business owner can attest to, being in charge of your own commercial destiny can have its challenges.
New research, commissioned by online small business lending specialist Prospa (and conducted by YouGov Galaxy) has painted a clear picture of the dedication and sacrifices that are required to successfully run a small business in New Zealand.
When running your own venture, it can be hard not to spend every waking moment working or thinking about work. There’s so much to do that many small business owners find it tricky to switch off.
Among the 250+ small business owners surveyed, nearly half reported working six or more days a week in, or on, their business – with one in five working a full seven days.
An overwhelming eight in 10 respondents said they’ve had to make sacrifices in other areas of their lives in order to focus on their business. Personal time was the most common casualty (58%), followed by hobbies (57%), exercise (48%), family time (38%), romantic relationships (33%), and sleep – coming in at 30%.
Being a small business owner often means wearing multiple hats at once – such as manager, recruiter, salesperson, marketer, accountant, IT expert or cleaner. Sometimes that’s because hiring someone to do the job for you simply isn’t within budget, but it can also often be an unwillingness to let go.
And survey statistics reaffirm the fact that, although it can be tempting, shouldering every aspect of business management alone can take its toll.
More than three quarters (76%) of survey respondents admitted struggling with areas of business management. Finance and accounting were the biggest sources of concern (39%), followed by IT and technology (31%) and digital marketing (20%).
Among those, 88% reported feeling frustrated, stressed, overwhelmed or burned out as a result of the strains associated with trying to wear too many hats at work.
Other consequences included working extra hours to learn new skills (further messing with that already shaky work-life balance), missing out on opportunities to grow the business, or losing revenue and customers.
So, what can small business owners do about it?
There are some simple steps that small business owners can take that may help address these issues:
- Use your schedule to its fullest:
Consider scheduling time for those things you’ve been sacrificing – even family time, dinner, and exercise. It can be much easier to pull yourself away from work when you’ve specifically set time aside for other important things. Seeing what’s prioritised in the schedule may also reduce procrastination and help you manage your time more effectively.
- Have the courage to ask for help when you need it:
Whether it’s finding a formal business mentor, or using your networks to help you learn specific business management skills when you need them – this can be an effective (and relatively inexpensive) alternative to help you fill your business knowledge gap, rather than muddling along alone.
- Explore all your finance options:
If short-term cashflow is the only thing stopping you from getting access to the support or expertise you need to capitalise on business growth opportunities, there are options available. Alternative small business lenders (like Prospa) offer loans that are fast, simple, and flexible, and can help you take advantage of the most urgent and immediate opportunities.
- Sit back and take stock:
After years of doing it all, many small business owners reach the point where they have the resources to delegate but are reluctant to do so. Check in to make sure you’re not holding onto habits formed out of necessity in the early days. Hiring someone with the right skillset doesn’t just share the workload, it may actually take your business to the next level. Bringing on someone to manage your social media accounts or test marketing campaigns could help grow your customer base. Contracting an IT expert for one to two weeks to implement new software and processes could massively improve productivity.
Prioritise and schedule what’s important and decide on where you add the most value to your business. When this is clear, consider developing these skills so you and your business can grow, and delegating those responsibilities that you can afford to let go. Your business and work-life balance will benefit in the long run.
Article supplied by Adrienne Church (pictured), General Manager of Prospa New Zealand.