How To Find Fulfilment At Work As A Small Business Owner

How to rekindle the early days joy of running your business.

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How to rekindle the early days joy of running your business.


How To Find Fulfilment At Work As A Small Business Owner

How to rekindle the early days joy of running your business.

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As we all know, running a small business can be incredibly tough. What starts out as fulfilling a lifelong dream, following a passion, or finally bringing an idea that’s been brewing for some time to life, while rewarding, quickly becomes a demanding job.

Small business owners don’t get into it for the late night paperwork, the stress of managing cash flow, or the anxiety that comes with dealing with the ever-escalating cost of doing business. In addition to coping with wider macroeconomic factors such as inflation, tapering economic growth and finding and retaining staff, small business owners have a lot on their plate.

Our latest report, which explores wellbeing amongst small business owners, found that those in the UK had the lowest levels of wellbeing and life satisfaction out of the seven countries surveyed. And UK business owners were far less likely to feel cheerful (38%), active and vigorous (36%), or fresh and rested (32%) most or all of the time.

These confronting statistics convey the poor mental wellbeing of many in the small business community. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, which is why finding ways to improve these figures should be a priority for us all.

Rekindling the passion for small businesses

While many people launch their own business in pursuit of greater fulfilment, the report found that 42% of UK small business owners don’t feel fulfilled by their work.

This figure must change. While we can’t control the economic environment, it is possible to help owners achieve more fulfilment in their day and rekindle the passion behind their business.

Creating conditions that help them to feel a sense of enjoyment, through both adopting new habits and more supportive policies, is a great place to start.

Here we explore five considerations for small business owners to help them find more purpose in their work.

Reaping the benefits of technology

Unfortunately, many business owners find themselves spending most of their time on admin, rather than the parts of the business that they’re truly passionate about. While implementing technology can be daunting and often comes with a price tag, the ROI - both from a cost and wellbeing perspective - can be huge, helping automate manual tasks, and freeing up time to spend on the more interesting and creative side of their business.

But it’s not just up to small businesses to overcome their concerns with implementing technology. It’s also the responsibility of technology companies, the industry as a whole and government to adapt their language in a way that positions technology adoption as a series of small, incremental steps rather than large-scale, all-in bets.

Adopt a growth mindset

When there’s pressure to drive profit and revenue, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations and focus only on outcomes. But learning as you go, having new experiences and developing new skills can make work much more enjoyable. For small business owners, that might include doing online courses, undertaking hands-on business training or mentoring in areas such as digital marketing or social media, or making time to enjoy new hobbies that spark creativity.

But small business owners are often too busy to do these things. That’s why automating time-consuming tasks through technology is a brilliant first step. But there are also ways the government could help  small businesses find the time to upskill.

For example, the government could provide tax relief for training in critical skills; improving awareness and access to digital training; and making it easier for small businesses to invest in digital tools.

Taking ownership of your role

It’s important that small business owners remember they’re in control of the business, not the other way around. Many owners find themselves wearing multiple hats, which means they get stuck in the day-to-day admin with little time to focus on the areas they enjoy most.

While it may seem an added expense, it is possible to outsource certain roles and responsibilities either through suppliers or through technology that meet business owners’ specific needs. Often the expense pays off, enabling important tasks to be done quicker and to a higher quality, while helping the business to grow and thrive.

Small business owners should therefore consider setting aside a regular “career review” for themselves to evaluate what they can add or outsource to make their job more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Expanding your network

Owning a small business can sometimes feel isolating, so it’s crucial that to take advantage of any opportunities to spend time and network with those in their community, whether it’s other small businesses in the neighbourhood, their accountant or business coach, or their customers.

Connecting with others, especially customers, can help owners feel more connected with the heart of the business and can be an important reminder of why they do what they do. Sharing and listening to other small business owners’ experiences offers fresh inspiration and new perspectives.

Dream big

For many small business owners, starting their business is a huge step towards achieving a dream. But their aspirations shouldn’t stop there - there’s always room to dream bigger.

When it feels as though so many challenges are working against them, it’s easy to slip into thinking of their status quo as a “good enough” way of doing things. That’s understandable; tried and tested processes or solutions feel safer and require less mental energy than unproven experimentation.

But when small business owners challenge themselves to find better ways of doing things, they’re more likely to find interest and fulfilment in what they do.

Running a small business is a bumpy ride

Every small business owner faces ups and downs; the latter often making it difficult to remember why they chose to embark on the journey of owning their own business in the first place. By incorporating some of these tips, we hope small businesses can find their way back to feeling more enjoyment and fulfilment in their days and as a result, improve their overall wellbeing. For more advice around wellbeing and to hear from other small businesses, read our toolkit created with Unmind.

Jo Copestake is a director at Xero.

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How To Find Fulfilment At Work As A Small Business Owner

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