Owning a business can be one of the most rewarding activities an individual can do. The attraction of business ownership is to have:
- The power to create and implement your plans, dreams and shape your destiny
- Financial wealth and independence
- The freedom to choose to live and make your decisions in your life
- The accolades and the influence that your successful business might bring
Sadly, this is not the reality for most business owners. Statistics say that most small business owners work long hours, are severely stressed and in the most extreme of cases face bankruptcy or at the least extreme financial hardship.
One must ask oneself, why do we do it at all?
For some it is a case of being in the right place at the right time, or the reverse, wrong place, wrong time, unemployment (buying a job) or the lure of the aforementioned attractions. No doubt people will continue to do this and no amount of pointing out the pitfalls will dissuade people. In fact, we as a nation rely on small business as one of the important engines of the economy. Our wealth would be much, much less without those willing to own and run small businesses. They should be applauded and supported a whole lot more by Government, but that’s a story for another day.
So what can the small business owner do to reduce their stress levels and achieve the goals that lured them to do it in the first place? The following seven tips are essential to consider if you want to have the maximum chance of success and having a less stressful experience.
- Educate yourself: You must spend some time during your week learning about what other successful businesses are doing and making plans to adapt their ideas to your business where appropriate. Being a business owner is not instinctive for most people but one the other hand running a business is not rocket science. There is heaps of information available on the principals of business management and leadership. Whether you do this formally as a qualification or informally as a self-directed learner you must learn to be a knowledgeable, productive and efficient business owner.
- Have a business plan: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is a well-worn saying but which is nonetheless true. A business plan is a roadmap, a compass and a measuring device all rolled into one. Business planning, implementation, review and measuring are essential activities that result in the best chance of success (and the lowering of stress). Too often a business plan (if the business even has one) is left in the bottom drawer or dragged out at times to borrow more money to keep the business afloat. It must be a living document that is consulted regularly and amended when necessary.
- Protect your personal wealth: You must separate your business and your personal estate to protect your wealth, your family and future. Small business people are always putting up hard earned wealth such as their homes to secure loans for the business. This is a recipe for disaster. Time and time again we hear the stories of the business owner losing everything because of financial hardship. There are strategies to reduce debt and your exposure to failure in the business. You need to seek out the right people to help you design and implement your strategies. Which leads us to points 4 & 5:
- Find a coach or mentor: Business ownership can be a lonely place especially when the wolves are at the door. A trusted advisor can help you identify threats and opportunities for your business and help you proactively deal with situations before they arise. An experienced mentor and coach can give you important lessons from their own challenges and how they solved the problems and succeeded. They can also help you follow through and take responsibility for doing what needs to be done, on time, on budget and with well thought out strategies.
- Have trusted advisors: It is essential that you receive the best financial and taxation advice possible. Most people see their accountants as a necessary evil and to just use for tax returns. A proactive accountant is part of your team and can help you to find cost savings and increase profit margins while minimising your tax obligations. Accountants should not be seen as a cost but as a part of your profit making machinery.
- Get a great team: Ideally every business wants talented individuals with the necessary skills in their team. Unfortunately these perfect people are hard to find. Most business owners fall into the trap of employing “skilful” people rather than digging deeper to find individuals that adapt and learn quickly, are loyal and have your best interests at heart. Having the right recruitment strategies are essential in finding the right people who will implement your plans and follow your policies and procedures diligently.
- Train your team: The business must have a team training plan to succeed. How many business owners are the brains trust, technician, sales master and manager of the business? Most stressed business owners I have met are exactly in this position. The only way you can ever achieve the results as set out at the start of this article is to replicate what the business owner is doing many times over. You can only do this with picking the right team members and training them to follow your policies and procedures. The true role of the business owner is to make themselves redundant from all roles bar one, which is “LEADERSHIP”.
The secret to less stress is becoming the leader of your organisation. By leading you become an observer of where your business is heading:
- Someone who recognises opportunities and challenges before they happen
- Someone who sees that the business is hitting its’ targets
- Someone who keeps the team on task, efficient, and profitable
- Someone who leads by example and brings forward the next leaders of the business.
Are you a stressed business owner or are you the caring employee of one in this position?
“T3 Australia” and its’ partners “MMI Pty Ltd” and “The A Firm” are specialists in addressing every one of the challenges identified in this article. Our goal is to help people, whether business owners or individuals become “healthy, wealthy and wise” which means in reality that our real product is being “happiness providers”. After all joy, happiness and contentment are the three factors that most of us strive for in our lives. Education, coaching, mentoring and trusted advice are the key factors that determine your success at achieving the happiness you and your family need and ultimately deserve.