Whilst I am the first to admit that if you are in small business it will almost be impossible to get rid of all stress, the reality is that most stress in our lives is caused by not being organised.
What are some of the things that we see that cause the most discomfort? Well here are 5 areas we see most often and what we recommend you should do if you are experiencing these difficulties.
Figure 1: Think losing a Dubbo Junior Rugby League Grand Final in golden point is stressful? Try your hand at small business!
stress #1 sales are down & don't look like improving
This is probably the number one area that keeps most small business owners awake at night. If this is you, ask yourself the following:
- Are your sales team order takers or order makers? in other words are they waiting for the phone to ring or are they actively seeking sales opportunities from existing and non-existing customers?
- Exactly what are the activity levels like in your sales team and do they report amount of customer interactions, follow up calls, quotes asked for, quotes delivered, quotes won (conversion rates), quotes lost and reasons for non-conversions?
- Do you have the right platform to monitor sales intelligence? (e.g. should you be using say Salesforce?)
- What marketing is being done and what leads are being generated from campaigns?
- Have you identified your target market (or 'buyer persona' and what the ideal client looks like that will need your product or service and what channels are you seeking them?
- Do you have a proper marketing plan and budget?
- Have the above matters been dealt with in your business plan which is key to all business growth?
stress #2 cash flow is poor
This is another area that worries most small business owners. Profit might be going along ok but what about cash flow? Your small business accountant Sydney should monitor this with you each quarter at least. Do you have:
- A three way budget (the best form of cash flow forecasts) which explains what happens to your bank account after sales, expenses, dividends and loan payments take their course?
- Act on fixing poor cash flow practices such as lax credit terms or untimely invoicing and follow up?
- A daily invoicing system or do you wait until the end of the month? (if so, why?)
- An accounting system (such as cloud accounting system Xero) that lets you monitor budget v actual once you've formulated it with your small business accountants?
stress #3 competition is fierce
Many small businesses suffer from fierce competition which can place pressure on price and margins.
- Constantly monitor your competition so you can adapt your business into a position that gives you a point of difference?
- What do you do differently to your competitors?
- Can you deliver your product or service more efficiently? (walk through your processes from start to finish - there will always be something that can be improved. It might even be sourcing better equipment which gives you an efficiency edge);
stress #4 staff are giving you grief or have just been poached
Employees in business are often a source of stress and frustration for many different reasons. The big one we often hear is that the team is not loyal and the jump from one place of employment to the other after much training and investment.
To minimise this do you:
- Provide your employees with a place of employment that encourages collaboration and has the necessary tools to allow them to complete their duties?
- Pay above the market and provide incentives?
- Provide training that will allow employees to improve their skills?
- Give employees duty and position descriptions within their employment contracts so they know what is expected from them?
- Encourage input into your business plan and share results with them or are most things kept secret?
Figure 2: Do you show your team that you appreciate them or do you just bark at them? Photo courtesy Lara Scolari & Balmain Baz
stress #5 can't afford to take time off or delegateHaving a business that relies on you is not good for many reasons. These include:
- Having to work longer hours in the business and not on the business.
- Lack of trust to those that could do the job if shown and trained properly causing them to look elsewhere.
- A lower business valuation as who wants to own a business that could go downhill quickly if something happens to one key individual? Higher risk means business valuers or small business accountants will advise a smaller price when it comes time for their clients are considering buying your small business.
- Less holidays?!
What are you doing to make the business less reliant on you and others?
Figure 3: Less reliance means more holidays! Photo courtesy Lara Scolari Gallery & Balmain Baz
If you are a small business owner, don't less stress ruin the challenges you have set yourself which in the main should be enjoyable. Too much stress is not only unhealthy but it will stifle your business growth and your development as a person.
Leaders act! As a minimum go through the above and gradually tick them off as you address the issues. Having a plan to improve these areas should see you start to de-stress almost immediately.
Not having plan should see your stress not only remain but actually increase!