Entrepreneurs are inspirational. Many people have grown up with admiration for business moguls and leading lights of the corporate world and some may even dream of following in their footsteps. There are myriad advantages to being an entrepreneur, but setting up and running a business is no walk in the park. As studies suggest that over 90% of business owners have experienced poor mental health in the last two years, finding a healthy work-life balance has never been more important.
Why Are Mental Health Conditions Common Among Entrepreneurs?
A survey conducted by Opinium and the Centre for Economic and Business Research shows that 92% of small business owners have experienced mental health issues since 2020. More than 40% of people in that group said that recovering mentally would take longer than bouncing back financially.
The pandemic has been a major driving force behind soaring anxiety levels and the increased prevalence of depression, but there are other factors to consider. Running a business is stressful at any time and it demands a huge amount of time, energy and effort. To succeed, you have to be able to spin multiple plates at the same time and you have to make decisions, some of which are incredibly difficult.
During the pandemic, most businesses faced financial issues, but perhaps the most harrowing aspect of keeping a company afloat during tough times is letting staff go or reducing hours. Entrepreneurs often shoulder the blame and this can take its toll emotionally.
A lack of time is another obstacle. Many business owners have personality types that mean that they work at full throttle until the job is done. For some, this means putting in 12, 15 or even 20-hour days on a regular basis. Working long hours can impact productivity, motivation, focus and physical and mental health and put individuals at risk of burnout.
A recent survey suggests that over 40% of small business owners have suffered from burnout in the last year. Signs of burnout include fatigue, loss of enthusiasm and motivation, becoming isolated and withdrawn, feeling overwhelmed and experiencing self-doubt.
What Can Entrepreneurs Do To Achieve A Better Work-Life Balance?
Data from a recent UK survey shows that the average entrepreneur works more than 50 hours per week. More than 90,000 business owners work over 80 hours per week. The average working week in the UK is 37 hours. Devoting so much time to work means that the work-life balance is out of kilter.
If you spend all your time at a desk or making calls and checking emails, you don’t have any hours left in the day to socialise, enjoy hobbies or interests, spend time with your family or relax and unwind. Working long hours may seem like the most obvious way to achieve results in business, but this is not always the case. Reducing working hours can often boost productivity while also improving mental health and well-being.
There Are Several Ways To Strike A Healthier Work-Life Balance, Including:
Identifying ways to save time, effort and money is the first place to start when addressing high levels of stress and anxiety. Technology provides a raft of advantages for business owners and their teams. Embracing new technology can supercharge efficiency and performance while also freeing up time for owners and employers and providing a better service for customers.
Analyse existing systems and processes, carry out a tech audit and look into new investments. Seek advice from consultants or IT experts if you don’t have tech gurus on your team and focus on innovations that are relevant to your company and your primary business objectives.
Click here to find out more about healthcare software for medical practices and healthcare businesses, or research developments you can utilise for a sales or marketing team, a law firm, hospitality chains or an estate agency. Automation is a brilliant example of using technology to save time and streamline processes.
Delegating can have an incredibly positive impact on business efficiency and work-life balance, yet many entrepreneurs are reluctant to pass tasks on. If you’re afraid to delegate, you may end up taking on everything yourself. Delegating is often mutually beneficial for employers and employees. Employers free up time in their schedules and employees have the opportunity to take on more responsibility and develop and hone their skills.
The organisation as a whole can also benefit, as delegating may mean passing jobs from somebody who has limited experience or expertise to better-qualified individuals. No entrepreneur is a master of all trades. It can be hugely beneficial to recognise when others are better placed to take on certain tasks or projects.
Trust is integral to successful, effective delegation. If you’re a business owner and you don’t have confidence in your team, you will probably be reluctant to delegate. Hire people you trust and build strong relationships with your employees.
Get to know candidates during the interview stages of the recruitment process and evaluate personality traits and character, as well as professional experience and skills. If you have a fantastic team around you, and you want to help them progress and develop, delegating becomes much easier.
Creating A Routine
Creating a routine can make a huge difference to your work-life balance if you tend to work all hours and you’re craving downtime. Get into the habit of setting work hours and draw a line between work and leisure. Having a regime can help you to maximise productivity and it will also encourage you to set aside time for activities, hobbies, investing in relationships and unwinding. Manage your schedule, block out time for downtime and set boundaries.
There may be days when you need to make a business call at 9 pm, but don’t make this a regular occurrence. Be clear about when you’re working and avoid blurring the lines. It’s as important to manage your downtime as it is to control your work diary.
Hiring And Outsourcing
Many start-ups and small business owners begin with a small team. Getting a business off the ground requires a lot of hard work. If the company expands, or customer demand increases, you might try to ride it out with the same team, but what happens when you can’t physically cope anymore? If you don’t have enough staff, or there are tasks to complete that don’t complement the skill set of your core team, there are two avenues to explore. You could hire new employees or look into options like outsourcing.
Hiring makes sense if you are expanding core operations and you are looking for permanent staff. Outsourcing offers an alternative, which is worth considering for short-term projects or jobs that don’t match the skills you have in-house. If you’re looking to promote a dental practice, a clothing brand or a new restaurant, for example, and you want to launch a marketing campaign, outsourcing could be an ingenious move.
When you outsource, you work with external agencies and third parties. In most cases, this involves paying a monthly or annual fee for a package of services. In this case, you would work with a digital marketing agency to design and run targeted campaigns and monitor results. You will benefit from expertise, industry experience and knowledge without adding to your wage bill or paying to recruit and train additional employees.
Mental Health Tips For Business Owners
Shifting the work-life balance is not the only way to protect and improve mental health. Other effective self-help techniques include regular exercise, stress management techniques and making time for hobbies.
Exercise is a potent natural tonic for mental and physical health. Working out and being active trigger the release of endorphins and cause the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain to rise. Exercise can also help you clear your mind, get a sense of perspective and channel emotions constructively. Being active is also a great way to meet other people, explore new environments and build confidence. It’s also hugely beneficial for your physical health.
Regular exercise lowers the risk of stress, depression, heart disease, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Being active is an effective stress-management technique, but there are other strategies you can try. Start by identifying triggers and trying to avoid them or reduce exposure. Use breathing exercises or meditation to induce calm and set boundaries to ensure you have enough time to rest and recover. Everybody needs time to recharge their batteries. If stress is overwhelming, it’s important to seek medical advice.
Having a hobby is a fantastic way to lower stress levels and enhance and nourish mental well-being. From active pursuits like hiking, kayaking and mountain biking to creative activities, such as drawing, painting and writing, it’s beneficial to explore and indulge interests.
Running a business is stressful. As surveys show that burnout and mental health issues have become more common among entrepreneurs, it’s essential to understand the importance of a healthy work-life balance. Business owners should be proactive in boosting efficiency, delegating and taking control of their schedules. It’s also crucial to protect and nourish your mental and physical health.