According to a recent survey from OPEN, the small business group of American Express, small business owners are grappling to find balance in their lives. I’ve shared some of the specific findings of the survey.
According to a the semi-annual Small Business Monitor (a survey of small business owners) from OPEN, the small business group of American Express, small business owners are grappling to find balance in their lives.
While these small business owners are optimistic about business itself, and plan to grow their businesses through capital investment and hires, they find that with stress and sacrifice is part of owning a business.
Here are the specific findings:
- Business owners recognize the importance of “down-time” in their lives and most are satisfied with the amount of leisure time they have (81%). However, carving out this time does not come without stress. Two-thirds of business owners (64%) find it stressful balancing their personal life and their business. Women business owners are more stressed by work/life balance than their male counterparts (71% vs. 62%).
- Two-thirds of business owners (67%) report they find themselves making sacrifices in order to be an entrepreneur. Among those who feel they are making sacrifices, family (52%) and friends (42%) are areas where they make the most sacrifices, followed by personal finances (36%) and health (35%). Male business owners are more likely to find themselves making sacrifices in their personal lives in order to be an entrepreneur when compared to women (73% vs. 65%).
- As business owners find themselves trying to achieve balance, they identify flexibility as the most essential entrepreneurial attribute. One-third of business owners (34%) identify flexibility as the most essential aspect of being an entrepreneur. Following at a distance is working well under pressure (24%) and knowing the market (18%).
- Taking their own advice on the importance of flexibility, two-thirds of business owners (64%) report making personal time for themselves during the business day. Men are slightly more likely than women to make personal time for themselves (66% vs. 60%). Although entrepreneurs realize the importance of taking time for themselves during the business day, nearly half (45%) consider taking time off from work to pursue a leisure activity a ‘guilty pleasure’. Female business owners are more than four times more likely than their male counterparts (18% vs. 4%) to consider ignoring an email as a ‘guilty pleasure’.
The two points here are that business owners are feeling stressed and making great sacrifices. This should come as no surprise. Many of us do it and consider it part-and-parcel of the trade-off we’ve made to gain the flexibility of time (and often mobility) that comes with our roles.
The survey doesn’t specify, but what these respondents are saying is that the stress they’re reporting isn’t eustress – the healthy stress that gives a feeling of fulfillment. It’s the bad stress – distress – that leads to burnout.
The sacrifices being reported regarding family and friends are those that cause guilt – the feeling that we’re losing time with the ones we love; time that we’ll never recapture.
Business owners have the answers to these problems. They’ve identified flexibility as the #1most essential entrepreneurial attribute. They’ve even gone so far as to make time for themselves during the business day. All they need to do now is transfer that formula to their family and friends.
It’s simply a matter of implementation. Take action (see #5). As Nike says: “Just Do It!”