Small business owners wear many hats. From customer service and sales, to bookkeeping and recruitment — when you run a small enterprise, the buck stops with you.

There’s no doubt that owning a small business has many rewards. However, it’s important to acknowledge that this lifestyle also comes with its fair share of challenges. There is the uncertainty surrounding the current economic climate, long working hours, variable cash flow and the challenges of managing staff and customers. The reality is that it’s a lot to deal with when everyone turns to you for all the answers.

Without the support structures enjoyed by a bigger business, such as finance teams, salespeople and HR departments, owners of small businesses can sometimes feel overstretched and overwhelmed. Recent research undertaken by MYOB in collaboration with Beyond Blue found that 56 per cent of small business owners reported feelings of anxiety or depression arising from running their own business. This has raised concern about the connection between the pressures of being in business and mental health. MYOB’s research and our own data at the SBDC shows that financial concerns including cashflow, attracting and retaining customers, and managing staff are some key causes of anxiety.

The same report found that nearly half of business operators would seek support from family when feeling stressed, while nearly a third would speak to their GP. Important as it is to approach your loved ones and primary health provider for mental health support, only professionals with experience of the realities of running a small business will be able to give actionable advice to address some of the root causes of stress.

As a collective, small businesses are the State’s largest employer, accounting for more than 40 per cent of private sector jobs. Therefore, it’s crucial for our economy — as well as the people involved — that we look after them. For our team, that means creating an environment in which small business owners can thrive; offering a listening ear, as well as suggestions and guidance to effectively address business concerns.

One of the most important services we provide is our free business advisory service. Any small business owner can call us on 133 140 to speak to a member of our experienced team. Another important resource is our dedicated dispute resolution service, to help iron out business issues related to contracts, commercial leases, non-payment and other matters. This service is also free, and can help business owners avoid the cost and time commitments of going to court. Eighty per cent of disputes that come to us are finalised through this service.

When you are a small business owner, everyone turns to you. We want you to know that when you need free advice and support, you can turn to us. If you would like to talk to a business adviser about your situation, call us on 133 140. If you are in distress and need crisis support, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. You can also read these useful resources:

SBDC news
14 February 2020