Stress busting tips for small business owners

Here, we offer advice on how to recognise the first signs of stress, and explore solutions to make life more efficient for business owners.

Running your own business can be an incredibly rewarding experience but it has its downsides too and not everyone is prepared for the inevitable stressful moments.

According to a survey carried out by Haines Watts, 35 per cent of UK business owners completely lose motivation to run their business due to stress at least once a year.

Although some degree of pressure can be motivational, if it reaches the point where you can no longer cope then it is classed as stress, which can lead to all manner of problems.

Being a small business owner can be particularly isolating and you may feel you have to cope on your own, so learning to deal with stress is a vital survival skill.

Signs of stress

It is important to spot the signs of stress before you reach the point where it affects your ability to run your business, or even impacts your personal relationships.

Some common signs to look for include mood swings, poor memory, an inability to concentrate, or a lack of motivation. You may also find your appetite and sleeping habits are affected, or you may drink or smoke more than usual.

Sources of stress in business owners

Running your own business will have its ups and downs, so it is normal to have some worries. Worries over money, a lack of time and losing control are some of the top things business owners worry about.

According to the Haines Watts research, volume of work was the most common source of stress, identified by 58 percent of their survey respondents. This was closely followed by financial worries, which was named as a stress causing factor by 51 per cent of the respondents.

Stress solutions

A number of strategies can help you prevent stress from spiralling out of control. Here are some you can try using to help you cope:

Use time management and collaboration tools

Time management tools can be incredibly helpful and nowadays there are several to choose from, so you are bound to find something that suits your needs.

You can also use time tracking software to help you be more productive by giving you a clear view of how much time you are spending on specific tasks. If you are still using clunky spreadsheets, such tools can make life a lot easier for you.

Collaboration tools are also great if you work with people based outside your business, like suppliers.

You may need to try a few of these tools to find which ones work best for you. You can try many of them for free before deciding whether to buy any of them.

Look after your health

When you are busy, you can easily find yourself developing unhealthy habits. You may skip meals, or eat unhealthy foods. Try to take time to plan healthy meals, so you are less likely to succumb to bad habits.

Doing some exercise is also worthwhile, even if it is something as simple as walking. In addition to keeping you physically healthy, it can help you take your mind off things too.

If you are tempted to forgo sleep, remember it will only be counterproductive because it will make it harder for you to function later on. You’ll also be more likely to make mistakes and it can impair your judgement. If you regularly have trouble sleeping, try different strategies to help, like writing a worry list, then working on plan to tackle the concerns you can control. If something is out of your control, try not to dwell on it.

Don’t try to do everything

If you fear losing control of your business, it can be tempting to take on more work than you can manage. You may find yourself working endless hours and never allowing yourself to have any time off. Taking time out to unwind is crucial to your health – so don’t feel guilty about it!

Aim to be realistic about what you can do and take a step back to identify the tasks that are worth spending time on.

Invest in key resources

While it is prudent to watch your expenses, there are certain investments you shouldn’t neglect.

Nowadays technology plays a vital part in just about everything we do. Solutions to the stress conundrum include ‘Stress Relief Wearable Tech’, psychological health tech apps, and organisational management software like Khaos Cloud or uskape, which can transform the way you run your business by automating tasks, releasing you from tasks with a high drudge factor.


With the right tools and strategies in place, you can keep stress at bay and enjoy running your business.

Further reading on stress

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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