How small business owners can manage stress

If you are just starting out as a business owner, and have work/life imbalance, you’re not alone. A recent survey commissioned by Prospa found that nearly half (49%) of small business owners in New Zealand are working between six and seven days a week on their business, with one in five (20%) working seven days.

The vast majority (88%) of those surveyed also feel they miss out on quality time with their family because they’re distracted by their business, with four in five – 81% – saying they actively cut back on personal activities to work longer hours.

The most common things that small business owners are sacrificing outside of time with their family include personal time (58%), hobbies (57%), exercise (48%) and spending time with their friends (47%).

All of which can have a detrimental impact on one’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Common small business stresses

Michael Burrows, a Wellington-based clinical psychologist at Anxiety Specialists, says that he frequently sees signs of stress in small business owners, whether it’s a conscious process that they’re fully aware of or an automatic process that occurs due to preconceived assumptions – like worrying about an important meeting not going well.

Common issues Burrows hears about from small business owners include time management, not taking time for health-promoting activities, not trusting their decision-making skills and difficulty in dealing with conflict.

Know your triggers

Burrows says one of the most important things small business owners can do is to identify the warning signs of stress in themselves and take active steps to alleviate it.

“Those warning signs can include difficulty getting to sleep, low appetite or comfort eating, feeling low or fatigued and staying up late watching TV or playing games to avoid going to bed and having the next day roll in,” he says.

Once stress has been identified, there are a number of things Burrows recommends to ease those negative feelings, such as scheduling time to both worry and relax. 

“If you can figure out what you’re stressed or worried about, schedule it into your routine by writing it down then putting it aside until a predetermined time you have allocated for worrying,” he explains.

“This sounds simple, but it’s a well-researched and massively successful technique for limiting your amount of worry.”

From there, scheduling time to relax, whether that means exercising, socialising with friends and loved ones, having a massage or meditating, is crucial to providing feedback to your brain that it is not in constant threat and it is in fact safe to relax.

Take one worry off your list

Starting your own business can be a challenging and exciting time. If you have been trading for less than three years, tick one thing off your list by signing up for a start-up income protection insurance. It gives you and your family a monthly payment if you’re out of action due to sickness or injury. 

Another thing to consider (especially for businesses that are more than three years old), is business continuity insurance. If you or a key employee were unable to work due to an accident or illness, this insurance provides a monthly payment to keep your business going.

Making a business work is hard enough without having to worry about the unexpected consequences of illness or injury. Feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about how we can help protect you against business interruption.  

Looking to scale your business?

Want to buy new equipment or hire more staff? Prospa is a small business finance specialist focused on helping small businesses grow. They offer fast turnaround loans of $5,000 to $150,000 and cash flow friendly repayments. Click here to find out more. 


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