It’s no secret that small business owners and entrepreneurs are STRESSED OUT. Unlike people with the “regular” 9-5 jobs, self-employed people, entrepreneurs and business owners often wear so many hats, they can sometimes forget which one is one their head. A business owner must keep the business doors open, keep employees paid, customers happy, the electricity on, their business flowing and growing all while trying to find time to do things like eat.
According to Forbes, There are almost 28 million small businesses in the US and over 22 million are solo businesses with no additional employees. Small businesses have generated over 65% of new jobs since 1995. It is safe to say, there is a lot riding on the shoulders of many small business owners. So what are some of the things that keep them up at night?
Here are 5 concerns that I hear over-and-over from my small business owner clients, and a few mini actions to help them combat those fears.
1. Work/life balance
With long hours, multi-tasking and all that stress, small business owners and entrepreneurs find their work and personal life very much out of balance. The irony is most people start a business to find more time for family and to make a higher income. I am personally convinced your business should work for you, not the other way around, otherwise, you have just created another “job” for yourself. A good place to start is by taking stock of what is REALLY important in your life.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Take stock of what is really important to you. Start physically scheduling these most important items on your calendar, and you’ll be very surprised at how the rest of your work will still get done.
Learn how to delegate. The owner’s job is to run the business, not work in it, but many business owners do not really understand the difference. As a business owner you should know what the highest and most profitable use of your time is.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Identify 5 things that routinely consume your time. Assign those tasks to an assistant, intern or part time person.
2. Time Management
With so many tasks to manage, it’s not surprising that the average business owner will work a 60+ hour week. Almost an off shoot of #1 (Work/ Life balance.) I hear over and over about how business owners have NO TIME. But guess what, time is the only thing in this world we all have that is equal. No matter where you live, your race, level of education or, religion, we all have 24 hours in a day. Some people just have already learned the skill of how to use their time in the most impactful ways. It is a skill that must be learned. It’s not always about the time physically spent working, but the time after hours spent thinking about the business that really adds up.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Start to pay attention to how you are REALLY spending your time. Is it in your email inbox, doing repetitive tasks, doing unimportant activities? Set 3 top weekly business development priorities. These should be activities that make you more money or improve your business must be done FIRST. Let all of the little things fit in around those REAL major priorities.
3. Attracting more customers
Since most problems disappear if you have enough money, small business owners worry about sales and attracting new customers. If they are a start-up, they’re worried about getting new customers. If they’ve been around for a few years, they likely worry about keeping their customers. Sales and marketing always should be top priorities. I subscribe to the philosophy there are REALLY only 3 ways to grow your business, which you can read more about here.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Assess all the ways you currently bring in new customers. Investigate new ways of reaching new customers. An easy to improve sales is to just treat your CURRENT CUSTOMERS very, very well. Communicate with them often, listen to their challenges, find new ways to bring them value, and do whatever it takes to surpass their expectations for your business. You might just find they buy more from you. The kicker is impress your current customers enough and they will tell new people about you!
4. Finding & keeping good employees
The loss of even one person can cripple a small organization, because there are fewer folks to take on the workload. Depending on their small team to power their company, business owners often worry about losing good people because they’ve likely invested a lot of time and money in training them.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Investigate an employee training strategy and business culture strategies to help hire and keep the right fitting, good people. Two great resources for this are zapposinsights.com and the Disney Institute.
5. New Government Regulation
Many small business owners in the United States are saying they are worried about complying with all the new government regulations. New employee regulations, internet sales tax, privacy regulations, healthcare costs and taxes are all on a small business owners minds.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Sit down and make a list of all your lingering questions. Find a good attorney and have a day where you can get all these questions answered. You can also go to your local SBA office website and get most of the information online. Writing these down helps you identify those things that keep popping up in your mind. Finding the answers, will finally set your mind at ease.
What do you find yourself worrying about over and over again?