Who has time for a personal life? SME owners are addicted to the job

Becoming an entrepreneur and setting up shop on your own needn’t mean sacrificing your personal life, despite what SME owners seem to think.

Work-life balance debate is increasingly prominent, but SME owners themselves are guilty of not making time for a personal life.

 The ongoing conversation around work-life balance is unrelenting. While the Japanese government recently announced a shorter working week, encouraging employers to allow the workforce to clock off at 3pm on Fridays, here the Modern Families Index reported that achieving work-life balance is increasingly stressful.

As business owners, most strive to achieve a work-life balance for our employees as time for a personal life has a crucial impact on productivity, as well as staff retention – and ultimately attraction!

A culture of long hours with a low return does not achieve great results for your business, nor does it create a happy workforce. 

Why then, do most SME business owners and managers neglect themselves and put their own work-life balance at the bottom of the pile? According to research undertaken by First Data, almost half (43 per cent) of UK SME owners say they have had to cancel personal commitments because they were working late.

It’s a shame small business owners do not always feel they have the time to afford themselves the same personal life, care and attention as their employees, but doing so might be transformative for the business. 

We should all work to live, even as business owners 

We know that small business owners are extraordinarily busy – from managing employees and inventory to serving customers and promoting the business, not to mention the accounts, taxes, salaries and pension schemes to organise. The to-do list can often feel never-ending, leaving most business owners overwhelmed and working late.

Unfortunately for some, this can result in compromising their personal life, working into the night, and cancelling social commitments. Time with family and friends is valuable to all of us, and it’s equally important to enjoy some well-deserved downtime for a personal life.

The survey also revealed that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of business owners confess to feeling like they know their business better than their partner, which really shows where the commitment of British business people lies!

Becoming an entrepreneur and setting up shop on your own needn’t mean sacrificing your personal life. Whatever our role within the business, remaining dedicated and ambitious should not come to the detriment of the things that matter most – family, friends and the experiences we share with them.

Get to know your business inside out, without working overtime

However, you don’t have to be stuck in the office or on the shop floor to get to know your business better and give it the love and attention it needs to grow. There is plenty of tech available to help small businesses work remotely, at a time and place that suits them.

A cloud-based system will likely appeal to growing businesses, allowing owners and senior managers to monitor data from afar, rather than staying late and feeling the pressure to be physically present on-site at all times. 

For example, if your goal is to understand sales data to help you plough more attention into the more profitable areas of the business, transaction data collected at your point of sale can show how your business is performing and help you understand the impact of marketing efforts.

We know that a massive 61 per cent of SME owners feel a lack of support when it comes to growing their business. It’s important that they know that they can take advantage of technology to take over tasks like real time stocktaking, annual leave management and marketing allowing them to concentrate on what is important – their customers and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Not only can technology help you to free up your time by automating some of the more mundane tasks from your to-do list, it can also help you to funnel your attention into the areas of the business that need your input most – like growth and increasing your profit margins.

In turn, with more time on your hands for a personal life, the business can no longer be the source of contention between you and the time you spend with family and friends.

You might even take inspiration from the Japanese initiative and take back your Friday afternoons and personal life to spend with friends and family! 

Hetal Patel is marketing director at First Data

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As the champion of UK enterprise for 20 years, Real Business is the most-read SME website dedicated to high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs. Through daily news, unique insight and invaluable guides we are an essential resource for thriving businesses.

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