If you’ve taken the entrepreneurial leap, you will know it’s not without challenges. Yes, it can be incredibly fulfilling to set your own agenda and make a genuine impact, but it can also fill you with self-doubt and cause many sleepless nights.
Globally, the top three challenges of running a small business are:
- Cash flow
- Emotional and mental health
- Time management
Let’s look at these challenges and how you can overcome them.
Challenge 1: Maintaining cash flow
If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, chances are you have worried about money. At least 59% of small business owners experience cash flow issues which have a significant financial impact.
No matter how well your company is doing, the amount of cash you have in the bank will always be linked to your future success. Just because your company looks solid on paper doesn’t mean it can’t take a turn for the worst if clients stop paying on time or your outgoings far outreach your income.
As a small business owner, you have to plan for things not to go as planned.
How to overcome cash flow concerns
It can’t be stressed enough – building up savings before starting a business is essential. Even once your company is up and running, try to save as much of your income as possible. Consider setting up a separate account for this money.
Your client relationships can also affect cash flow:
- Make sure your payment terms and conditions are clearly defined and communicated to your clients from day one – this will cover you legally if a client refuses to pay.
- Consider asking for a percentage of your fee up front to minimise risk.
Challenge 2: Sustaining your emotional well-being and mental health
Outside of the cash flow impact that financial challenges can create, they also affect small business owners emotionally. In fact, 56% of entrepreneurs claim financial issues have a significant impact on their emotional well-being.
It’s not just money worries that affect emotional and mental health either. As a leader, work could potentially consume every hour of your life. Keep in mind that CEOs of major multinational companies learn to set limits on their working time so they can maintain their health and relationships.
How to protect your emotional well-being
Having a leadership role is intense, and therefore your body needs to train just as athletes do. Keeping your body healthy will help to keep your mind positive.
In your downtime, prioritise these three things:
Top CEOs on average spend six hours per day awake and not working. Of this, about half is spent with family. The remaining half is divided into one-third exercising and two-thirds relaxing.
Spending time in nature can also help. Just two hours per week in some sort of green space can result in greater feelings of health and well-being. Even a 20-minute daily walk through a park can be enough to produce these positive feelings.
Challenge 3: Managing your time
With entrepreneurship comes a constant pressure to achieve and grow the business. Not to mention the sheer number of things that need to be done. Small business owners also often fear taking time away from the business, so will put holiday on hold – sometimes for years.
If you try to do everything yourself, you will never get it all done. Too many hours working and a lack of time off brings on fatigue, and with it comes rash or poor decision-making. And your relationships, health, and life outside of work will also suffer. It is essential to learn how to achieve a work/life balance and manage your time so the most important things get done well.
How to achieve a work/life balance
Prioritise. This is critical. You must learn what matters to the business and make sure that’s done first.
After this, you need to delegate. Business owners often struggle with this because they fear a loss in quality. But keep in mind this sacrifice should only be temporary. There may be a slight quality dip while the team member gets up to speed, but if you’ve hired the right person it should recover quickly.
With effective time management of work in place, make sure to schedule time for yourself for thinking and learning. You are not expected to know everything about owning and running a small business, so you need to grow into your leadership role.
‘Thinking’ time is crucial. Consider that Warren Buffett says: ‘I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.’
As the strategic leader of the company, you are the guide. Force yourself to spend significant stretches of time thinking, with no interruptions. Do this regularly. Put together questions to guide your thinking time so you use it efficiently. You can even combine ideas and schedule your thinking and planning time when you’re outdoors in green space.
Other ideas for achieving a healthy work/life balance include:
- Block time in your calendar for things that are important to you and/or your family.
- Try setting an alarm on your phone to tell you it’s time for bed.
- Don’t take your electronics to bed with you; keep your bedroom a place of calm and serenity to unwind at the end of the day.
Remember that sleep is so important to your daytime function – getting adequate, quality sleep will improve your concentration, productivity and cognitive function.
Although it can be the most time-consuming and all-encompassing job you’ve ever had, running a small business offers significant benefits. In fact, 97% of self-employed professionals say they would never return to traditional employment.
Take these ideas to make the great challenge of running a startup just a little more manageable.