Running your own business can be incredibly rewarding, but for many small-business owners, having complete responsibility for payroll, finding the next job, or even just getting paid for the last job can take its toll.

There are many reasons why you might be feeling overwhelmed as a small-business owner. When you focus all your time and attention on the business, it can be easy to forget how crucial it is to prioritise your own mental well-being.

If this sounds like you, know that you’re not alone. It’s a lot of pressure to be responsible for other people’s lives, especially if your employees are also your family members or people you count as close friends. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to break the cycle of stress and regain some all-important work/life balance.


Learn to take a step back

Small-business owners regularly face long hours and even a seven-day work week. No matter how much you love your job, long hours will eventually take their toll and lead to burnout.

By undertaking business-related activities such as responding to business emails and calls after hours, you’re blurring the boundaries between work and home and essentially giving yourself a 24/7 job.

Unless you can take back some time for yourself, you’ll eventually end up burnt out, unhappy, and resenting the business you’ve created. Not exactly a recipe for success.

While it’s easier said than done, sometimes we simply need to draw a line in the sand and hit the reset button. This may mean saying, “I know there is a lot to do, but I’m not going to work this Sunday, because I need to rest.” Once you’ve had some genuine rest, Monday’s to-do list will start to look a lot more achievable.

Another great solution is to learn to delegate. Although passing on business-critical tasks to your team might feel risky, it’s actually the only way to have a healthy, thriving, sustainable business over the long term.

Connect with others

Life at the top can often feel lonely. If you’re spending every waking hour on your job, it’s easy to feel isolated and like no one can understand your struggles. Eventually, this feeling can eat away at you, causing deep feelings of resentment that could even spill over into your team.

Never be afraid to reach out to your network of business partners, employees, and even competitors. You’ll be surprised at what can arise from a little honesty and a willingness to talk about what you’re going through.


Admit when you don’t have the answer

Sometimes your business’s demands are greater than your capacity to deal with them, and that’s okay. Although small-business owners are brilliant, we’re also only human. Sometimes we’re wrong, sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes we make the wrong call.

When we are deep in the problem, it always feels much bigger than it really is. Reach out to a colleague, partner, or friend and ask them if they can help. Some problems weren’t built for us to tackle alone.

Finally, while stress isn’t the same as a diagnosed mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, excessive or long-term stress can increase your risk of developing a mental health condition. It’s a real health risk, and one you should take as seriously as any physical health condition.

Tackling these issues is critical for both your own mental health and the health of your business. You can’t have one without the other.

If you’re struggling with similar issues, check out Heads Up, a free dedicated small-business mental health website with many tools and support.


Adam Joy
Chief Executive Officer