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How to sleep easier as a small business owner

Owning your own business can free you from the nine-to-five grind, help you fulfil your passion, create financial opportunities and give you more control over your life. It can also keep you awake at night. Just ask the two million or so Australians running small businesses1.

So what are some of the traps and trials of running your own show and what can you do to replace the stress with success and a better night’s sleep?


Keeping enough money coming in to cover everything that needs to be paid out is probably the chief sleep depriver for small business owners. Many make the mistake of not having enough funds behind them to start with, putting unnecessary pressure on turnover from the outset.

The other error is not reflecting your true operating costs in what you charge for your products or services. All ventures, no matter how small or what business they are in, have costs – rent, wages, supplies, equipment, electricity, freight and travel, to name a few. Under-estimating the full cost of operating your business is one of the surest ways to strangle your cashflow. You might win work or sell lots of product based on your prices but if revenue doesn’t ultimately outstrip expenses, you won’t be in business for long.

How to remedy

  • Start with sufficient funds under your belt to cover running costs while you are building your business.
  • Consider a small business loan or overdraft to help get you started and manage initial cashflow. I can help point you in the right direction to find the right finance solution, so you can get on with doing what you do best – managing and growing your business.
  • Create an accurate pricing model that factors in all your running costs and how much profit you need to make.
  • If offering a professional service, ask for part payment up front.

The line between work and home

You might have more flexibility with work hours when self-employed but many small business owners find themselves spending more time toiling than ever before, blurring the line between their professional and personal lives. Our 24/7 digital world doesn’t help, making it easy to check emails from the couch or take a business call while driving the kids to school. Not only are long work hours taxing on you, the business owner, they can take a dramatic toll on your family and other important relationships, compounding your stress levels.

How to remedy

  • Set boundaries and be disciplined with your work hours. While it’s important to be responsive to customers and spend time on your enterprise, you are ultimately in charge of your time outside of business hours. Find a routine that works for you and your family.
  • Eat well and find time to exercise to help manage your fitness and stress levels.
  • Make time for the most important people in your life. Maximise your flexibility to attend school events, read to your kids at bedtime, make a point of eating breakfast or dinner as a family, set a regular date night, steal a weekend away and catch up regularly with friends.

Lack of help

It’s a catch 22 and major source of stress for many small business owners – the need to wear multiple hats but insufficient funds, or lack of revenue certainty, to take on extra help. Most small business operators find themselves working in and on their businesses, straddling everything from book-keeper and financial controller to human resources and marketing. Inevitably, something has to give.

There are plenty of ways to access business support for start-ups if you are prepared to be resourceful.

How to remedy

  • You might be eligible for a grant to support expansion. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science offers a wealth of online resources to support small businesses, including information on available grants, plus free business advisory services and workshops. Visit
  • Tap into extensive skills and knowledge without the burden of full-time wages by employing experienced part-timers, such as parents who are looking to keep their professional skills up but don’t want to work full-time.
  • Talk to TAFEs and universities about internships or part-time employment opportunities for promising students. New talent can require extra supervision but the right hires can also bring energy, enthusiasm and fresh thinking.
  • Find a trusted mentor who understands your challenges and can help you navigate growth. Many business people are willing to lend an hour of their time on a regular basis to impart their learnings and wisdom.


Between Business Activity Statements (BAS), tax, insurance, superannuation, public liability, payroll, workers compensation and leave entitlements, small businesses face a stack of red tape, rules and forms.
Compliance is a certain trigger for midnight tossing and turning. This is one area small business owners should not try to navigate solo.

There are plenty of ways to access business support for start-ups if you are prepared to be resourceful.

How to remedy

  • Get a good tax adviser who can not only help with your accounting but can make sure your business complies with the latest rules. Ask other business owners for their recommendations.
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission churns out regular updates for small business owners, including compliance requirements and also information on your rights. Explore the many online resources and sign up to the Commission’s newsletters at
  • Employment laws can be a mine field. The Australian Institute of Human Resources portal ( has free resources to help you understand your responsibilities as an employer and be a better boss.

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Any advice contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regard to those matters. Information in this article is correct as of the date of publication and is subject to change.