Running a business is stressful; there’s no doubt about that. But new research from business insurer Hiscox suggests that, in spite of increased physical and mental stress, UK SMEs are determined and up for new challenges.
According to their SME Health Check research commissioned amongst 502 business leaders in businesses with up to 249 employees, 45% were more stressed than a year ago and 77% reported suffering ailments like lack of energy, headaches and anxiety. That’s the bad news. The good news is that 50% of business owners expect their business to grow compared to just 15% who expect it to contract.
As a business owner myself, I’ve experienced all of the ailments mentioned:
- Lack of energy? Yes, normally after a sleepless night running over a client ‘s case in my head, or a succession of early mornings and late evenings at work;
- Anxious thoughts? Definitely, when too many things that I need to deal with come at the same time;
- Headaches? Certainly, when I’ve been setting at my computer reading detailed witness statements all day; and
- Back pain? Occasionally, when I forget to leave my chair for hours on end.
Apparently the main drivers of stress include things like the fear of losing their business altogether, losing clients, the pressures of bringing in new business and being constantly on call. I’m sure any business owner reading this can relate to these fears.
There are some useful ideas from medical professional, Dr David Bull, in response to the survey. He advises, “It's important to make sure that business owners take steps to combat stress which include eating healthily, making time for exercise, ensuring they get enough sleep, having time out, taking part in hobbies and ensuring that they take holidays.”
I’d just add my thoughts to this list, and of course they are tempered by my own experiences. The clients I see are often stressed as a result of a business dispute with a customer or supplier. They come to me sometimes wanting justice or vengeance, or simply a way out of their immediate problems and peace of mind. They’ve sometimes ignored a problem until it’s escalated to a point where the only resolution will come from the courts.
So my advice is to have a healthy diet of reality (we do sometimes become so obsessed with our own view of the problem that we don’t see the other side), make time to get advice from a lawyer early on (the sooner you tackle a problem, usually the easier it is to resolve), sleep on any decisions (don’t send that strongly-worded email today, read it again in the morning) and do try and take a break from the problem when you can.
I’m clearly no doctor or stress buster but I’d like to think this advice would help any business owner face the stresses of a dispute at work.