As a business owner, there are many plates that you have to keep spinning. There’s a lot of pressure on you to get things right, companies each year fail because of simple or silly mistakes made by their owners. But running a business is more than just a way to earn money, it’s a lifestyle. If you’re going to make it work, there are lots of areas that you need to address to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Here are five areas to keep a close eye on as a business owner.
As a business, making money is the name of the game. You might have started your business with more than just money as a motivator, for example, it might have been working flexibly or doing something you genuinely love that initially attracted you to the idea of starting your own company. However, unless you’re making more than you spend then you’re not a success and you simply can’t keep going. As a business owner, your finances need to be in order, not just for your company but in your personal life too. Any personal debt can be collected through your business as it’s seen as an asset so something to be aware of. Lots of businesses have times of hardship with money, and it’s normal for profits to ebb and flow throughout the year. For example, April is tax season and so in B2B industries you might notice a particular decline in sales around this month. Christmas, Easter and other holidays are likely to be much busier for retailers and other kinds of businesses. Make sure you’re aware of times that it’s likely to be quieter, that your expenses are covered. That way, you’re not at risk of falling behind and into debt.
You should have a budget that works for you, and a contingency fund to protect you if you’re not making enough money for longer than you’d like. Regular checks and audits will ensure that your money is being spent in the right place. When it comes to things like marketing and suppliers, things can change so don’t drop the ball and ensure that nothing is being overspent or wasted. If for example a marketing audit shows that you’re receiving low levels of engagement with certain campaigns or with certain platforms then putting more money into these areas is just going to be a waste.
As a company owner, it can feel as though you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You have a lot riding on your venture being a success, you might have poured your life savings into getting this started and quit your job or career to do this full time. When you’re no longer receiving a stable wage, finances can be a source of stress, not to mention the long hours that you’ll more than likely have to put in- at least in the beginning. For this reason, it’s so important to keep your mental health in check. Your company is important, but so are you. Working yourself to burnout and sacrificing everything else in your life for your business isn’t the way to go about things. Getting the work/ life balance right is important. Set your working hours, and try to stick to them where possible. Giving yourself time away from your work can actually make you more productive- you can return to things with ‘fresh eyes’.
It’s so easy to get tunnel vision towards a problem when you’re working on it without a break. You’re less likely to burn out when you have a break and it can generally help things to run more smoothly. You might have to work long hours, and burn the midnight oil from time to time. But for the most part, decide which hours you’re at work and which you’re off, relaxing, enjoying hobbies and doing other things not related to your business. Getting as organised as possible in all areas of your life helps to avoid chaos and can keep stress levels down. Find ways to relax when you’re not at work, everything from hot baths to meditation to spa trips and journaling have all been shown to be helpful.
As well as your mental health, you’ll also want to take steps to keep your physical body in check too. The two are closely linked, and looking after one will generally help the other too. For example, exercise releases endorphins so you feel good as well as toning up your body and burning excess calories. Getting enough sleep repairs the body and regulates hormones which make you feel better. Try to fit exercise into your regime, and make sleep a priority. Create a healthy work environment, avoid vending machines full of junk food in your office and canteens full of unhealthy choices. Some of the changes you could make in your workplace include standing desks and under desk exercise equipment. If you have an outdoor area, encourage staff to get outside with you when the weather is warm as the natural light and even just moving around a little can give you all a boost. Even details such as finding the right office chairs can be crucial for good health, without them you’re at risk of neck, back and even wrist strain. You also have health and safety to consider when you’re a company owner, all laws need to be followed to the letter.
Speaking of your employees, this is one area to keep in check as a business owner. These are the people that make your company run, you want to treat them well to keep them and ensure they’re happy and healthy at work. This means they’ll do better work for you, and you’re likely to experience a lower staff turnover rate too.
As well as ensuring that they have a fair wage you can offer employee benefits like health, dental and retirement packages. You could offer free gym memberships to encourage them to look after their own health, as well as training. Depending on what your business does, you could train staff and keep processes in house rather than having to outsource. For example, if you offered crane training to an employee you could use a crane hire company or purchase your own instead of having to completely outsource construction. This can save you money, and employees benefit as they get to improve their skills.
Relationships and family
Coming back to work/ life balance, it’s important to maintain and nurture your relationship, family and friendships as a business owner. When you’re an employee, you have your set working times and that’s that, but the lines can get fuzzy when you work for yourself. If you find yourself checking emails in bed, having conference calls when you’re meant to be having family time and going over accounts at the dining table then it’s going to cause issues. When you’re not within your working hours, ensure you’re not still in work mode. Have a separate work phone which is switched off when you’re off- calls can be diverted to a senior staff member to deal with things in your absence. Delegating is important, you need to be able to trust your employees and for them to be able to run things when you’re not there.
It’s every business owners aim to eventually own a business that runs without them, this frees up your time in retirement or later on to pursue other ventures or things you enjoy that aren’t related to money. It also frees up time to spend with the people that matter. Spend time choosing employees that are good at their job and are an asset to your company, it’s their work that will enable to you free up time once business is running well.