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Small business accounting

How unseen stress could be causing your business to fail

And the 9 simple steps you can take to beat it.

Research by Office Vibe shows that over 70% of professionals – especially business owners – regularly experience the physical and mental symptoms of stress. And the Health and Safety Executive reported that 12.5 million working days were lost to anxiety and stress in the UK last year.

Small business owners, compared to any other profession (except perhaps snake wranglers and bomb disposal experts) understand the true meaning of stress.

Hard work and dogged determination won’t always cut it. Managing your stress is vital if you’re going to avoid falling out of love with your start-up. Stress not only hits your health and performance, it can seriously affect your decision making so your business suffers too.

There are a few simply things you can do to stop stress derailing your business and bashing your profits:

  • Don’t micromanage – delegate to partners and employees (that’s what they’re there for).
  • Get a good project management tool to help you prioritize, assign tasks, track progress and share results (here’s a handy list of top-ranked tools).
  • Team up with an accountant who can take the stress out of bookkeeping, payroll, business finances and tax matters.

OK, so accountancy and stress-management doesn’t sound like a natural fit but you may be surprised by how much your accountant can do to cut your stress levels…

An understanding accountant armed with easy-to-use accountancy software like Xero can really help with your cash-flow – the No.1 cause of stress for small business owners. Here’s a few simple ideas…

  • Follow up fast on unpaid bills – maybe offer an incentive for early payment. (It’s amazing how a small discount for payment within 5 days does wonders to get clients settling up)
  • Work out if you can recover your costs elsewhere when thinking about marking down a product or service
  • Think ‘less is more’ before sinking precious cash into stock you might not need for months (or even years)

Another good tip is to give one of your most trusted employees the task of monitoring the company’s cash flow and if it dips below a key point to sound the alarm bells for you.

Last on the list of your stress beating detox is ‘New Business’. More customers might bring their own problems, but generally speaking they’re pretty good for hitting your sales goals! These points might seems obvious but it’s astounding how often business owners battling stress forget to focus on the basics, like…

  • What are the common preferences of your customers? Do they come from a particular group of people; younger, older, conservative, liberal? Once you have that info, you can better target your marketing.
  • Think about each step in your sales process and see if there are any gaps. Could you bridge them by trying something new?
  • Try a little customer research to develop a new product or service – one that fills a unique need for your customers and gives you a leg up on the competition. It’s surprising how often the difference between success and failure (or at least business related stress) is one, small, simple change.

So that’s it 9 simple thoughts to start taking some of the stress off your shoulders. You don’t have to do them all. Start with one and see how you get on. You have nothing to lose but your sleepless nights.