How to deal with small business stress

Chloe Bell Content Journalist at Bionic by Chloë Bell on May 18th 2021

With over 74% of UK adults feeling frazzled daily, stress has become a part of our daily lives. If you run your own business, there are even more things to worry about. And these worries can easily get on top of you. 

Starting up your own business can be tricky, and although the benefits can greatly outweigh the mountains you have to climb to be a success, dealing with the stress on your own can be the greatest challenge of all.  

Some small business owners find they struggle with balancing workload or keeping the business momentum going. Some find they are stressed trying to produce new ideas to spread the word about their company. Others may feel overwhelmed that they need to learn new things to be more efficient when keeping track of taxes, paying staff, or ordering stock. 

Stress is a completely normal reaction to changing situations, and one that can never be eliminated entirely. But learning to effectively manage your stress levels can make a huge difference in you feel each day and even how well you run your business. 

We’ve put together this helpful guide on how successful business leaders cope with stress, and they offer some great tips that we can all take on board. 

 How do successful business leaders deal with stress?

What sets successful business leaders apart from the rest isn't their levels of stress, it’s how they cope with these worries.  

Leaders at the head of some of the largest corporations in the world like Apple, Google and Virgin acknowledge that stress management is an essential part of their jobs, but they manage it well and use it to spur them on rather than hinder them.  

Infographic showing famous business leaders and their tips for dealing with stress

How to deal with the most common causes of stress for small business owners

While some of the above might be relatable, we’re not all high-flying CEOs of multinational companies. And we never will be. Let’s look at the most common causes of worry for small business owners, along with some ways to deal with the stress they bring. 

 1. Managing Staff

One of the biggest causes of stress for small business owners is managing staff efficiently. Over 42% of business owners cited this as a main cause of worry. 

When you first set up on your own, it can be daunting to recruit new staff and feel responsible for them. You may struggle to choose which candidate to go with, plus the interview process can be long-winded and tiresome. You want the best for your business and are ideally aiming to employ workers who are just as passionate about your company as you.  

So, what can you do to banish the worry? Take your time and really weigh up each candidate, it’s better to arrange multiple meetings and be sure before you hire. Advertise on multiple sites and dedicate a time each day to go through the applications.  

Also, when your team is built up, simple things like explaining the business vision, being clear about job duties and arranging prompt training will help ease some of the stress that comes with managing your staff, then you and your new team can get straight to working well together.  

 2. Money

Another great cause of stress for small business owners is money, primarily how much is being made and how it should be spent. Should you be focusing on hiring a team first or getting the shop layout finished? Should you be spending on marketing campaigns to spread the word or forking out for new displays for the window? 

In short, it's different for each business but this stress can be silenced by taking some time to think again about your overall vision. When you have a clear image in your mind about where you want this business to be in five or ten years, you’ll be able to see where money needs to be spent and how much will be left over for less pressing matters.  

 3. Admin

Admin can be taxing in itself, but when you’re a small business owner it can be really tough to keep on top of it, especially if you’ve never had to do your own paperwork or staff payroll before.  

In this situation, it pays to be prepared, so slowing down, thinking more clearly, and doing your research is important. Also, reading about things like QuickBooks or Bright Book to help you delve into the world of bookkeeping will aid you. 

Making sure you’re clued up and know what you need to do each day, week and month will really eliminate the overall stress. You could also think about creating a timetable, so you know what needs to be done on which day. 

Steve Jobs, CEO and Co-Founder of Apple dealt with stress by slowing down and thinking better. He said: 

“If you just sit and observe you will see how relentless the mind is, if you try to quiet it, it just makes it worse, but over time it does calm. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before”. 

So simply slow down, think clearly and you’ll find that your ideas and bigger and better than ever before. 

 4. Taxes

Speaking of taxes, this can be another daunting process to get to grips with especially if you’re used to being paid as an employee and have never been self-employed before.  

It’s a good idea to visit the gov.uk website to make sure you have declared you’re a small business owner and registered for everything you should have. 

With taxes, again, it really helps to do your research beforehand, so you know exactly what to expect. See if you can speak to any other local business owners firsthand and pick up some tips and tricks about how they get to grips with taxes if they choose to use an accountant or not and the system that works best for them. Then you can start to form your own routine around these ideas.  

 5. Work/Life balance

Many assume that running your own business gives you more free time. It’s a departure from the usual nine-to-five and a lot of people believe it's an easier route.  

However, this couldn't be further from the truth. A record amount of small business owners cite work/home balance struggles as a cause of stress. 

When you’re running a shop, bakery, hairdressers, gym, you name it, it can be difficult to switch off fully when you’re meant to be taking it easy after a long day.  

At a normal nine-to-five job, you can clock off and go home, leaving the stress of the day for the next morning when you log back in again. But when you own the business, it can be difficult to switch off and stop thinking about all the extra little things that need doing.  

Plus, if you live above your business as many do, it can be a struggle not to just nip down and tidy this or switch around that when you get a spare second. 

Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, has always said it’s about keeping the important things at the forefront of your mind and not letting the work consume you and take over everything else.  

He said: “If I lost the whole Virgin Empire tomorrow, then I would just go and live somewhere like Bali, but if there was a problem with my family health-wise, that’s a problem”. 

Making a clear schedule and clocking off at a certain time like you would as a 9-5 employee will help you get into a regular routine. It will even likely make you more productive at work as a result, because your mind will be fully engaged on the tasks at hand during the day. 

 Become a Bionic business

There are many factors that can cause small business owners stress, but business energy costs shouldn’t be one of them. By becoming a Bionic business and letting us take care of sourcing the best deals for your business, you are getting rid of the stressful switching process. We hunt down deals and compare suppliers so you don’t have to.  

You could easily save hundreds of pounds each month by simply comparing the best deals from our panel of trusted energy suppliers. Savings that you make on outgoing costs can help to lower your stress levels, as they can provide a direct boost to your bottom line, or free up funds to invest in other areas of your business.