Whilst running a small business can be a rewarding experience, the day-to-day operations can be more sobering; late night administration, cashflow headaches, and rising operational costs will be familiar to many small business owners. Unfortunately, according to our latest report, these stressors, rather than the more enjoyable aspects of running a business, can become the focus of business owners’ lives, especially in the UK.
In fact, UK small business owners had the lowest levels of wellbeing and life satisfaction out of of the seven countries surveyed; the findings showed they were far less likely to feel cheerful (38%), active and vigorous (36%), or fresh and rested (32%) most or all of the time.
With so many challenges thrown their way, there’s no doubt that for business owners and their respective companies to reach their full potential, they need to look after their wellbeing. Driving sales and revenue are of course important, but to do this small business owners require balance and time to focus on the parts they’re passionate about.
We should all find ways to support. Afterall, they are the backbone of our economy.
Finding more fulfilment
While many owners launch their businesses with the hope of finding fulfilment, it appears this doesn’t always end up being the reality; only 58% of UK small business owners report feeling fulfilled by the activities they do at work more than half the time. That leaves 42% feeling unfulfilled by their work.
We spend so much of our time at work, therefore we must encourage and support business owners to look at what they can do to make their work days more enjoyable, and rekindle their passion. Adopting new habits, trying new things and rethinking roles and responsibilities can make the job of running a business more interesting and fulfilling.
Streamline, learn and redesign
To remove the headache of day-to-day admin, business owners should look at the ways they can streamline and improve their operations. This can range from implementing digital tools, to learning new skills that enable them to be more efficient in certain areas of the business.
Using technology to automate time-consuming tasks can free up owners to focus on the parts of the business they’re passionate about.
But many are hesitant about adopting new digital tools, with our research revealing that only one in five small businesses consider themselves tech adopters. Technology companies and other businesses have a responsibility here to help smaller organisations overcome uncertainty and fear by cutting out the jargon and breaking down the adoption process into small, achievable steps.
Unlock creativity through self-development
Creating opportunities for learning and development can also help business owners develop and grow their business in more creative ways. For example, taking online courses, or undertaking business training in areas such as digital marketing, social media or advertising, can help broaden their knowledge.
It’s important to think about new opportunities outside of work too, to help with feeling refreshed and improve work-life balance. Martial arts, for example, is proven to improve overall concentration and cognitive performance in middle-aged adults.
It goes without saying that finding time to do this remains a challenge. Many business owners struggle to pursue training, especially in busy periods. The government could do more to incentivise this. For instance, by offering tax relief for training in critical skills.
Take ownership of your role
Small business owners often find themselves juggling many different roles. This can make it difficult to focus on the areas they’re really good at and find fulfilling.
Outsourcing certain roles to suppliers can take some of the strain off business owners, giving them more headspace for creativity and developing new strategies and opportunities for the business. One idea to help reflect on this is setting up a “career review” to evaluate what you can add to your role or outsource to make it more enjoyable.
If you’re not sure where to start with this process, your accountant or business coach can guide you in the right direction, based on your personal and business goals.
Be kind to yourself
Small business owners face heavy workloads, cost pressures and logistical challenges almost every day, all of which can sometimes override the passion behind owning a business. But by making some small changes, owners can improve their mental wellbeing and help their business thrive as a result.
For more advice around wellbeing and to hear from other small businesses, read our toolkit created with Unmind.