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The Ups and Downs of Running a Small Business

By Dean Laming on May 26th, 2022

When you leave a nine-to-five job to start your business, there are endless possibilities before you. You are excited about the future and ecstatic about the freedom you now have. Of course, you may have to worry about details like small business insurance premiums, but it’s nothing compared to all you stand to gain.

As you’ll realise in time, and most small business owners have discovered, running an enterprise is not all sunshine and rainbows. According to a Forbes report, only about half of small businesses survive past the five-year mark, ranging from 45.4% to 51% depending on the year the business was started. Beyond that, only about one in three small companies get to the 10-year mark and live to tell the tale.

A Statista report showed that business enterprises founded in 2019 in the United Kingdom had a one-year survival rate of 88.3%, compared with 89.3% in the previous year. The business survival rate has been gradually falling for several years, with just 39.6% of businesses founded in 2015 still operating in 2020.

The low survival rate has a lot to do with the ups and downs of running a small business. This is the focus of this article, and we also share how you can overcome it.

What To Expect

When starting a business, you’ll do the following:

  • Register a business name,
  • Choose a legal structure,
  • Write a business plan,
  • Secure funding and finance,
  • Plan your advertising strategy,
  • Buy your new small business insurance UK,
  • Work out what you need to do for tax, and
  • Create a system for keeping business records.

Once you’ve done all this and have commenced operations, here’s what to expect:

1. Long Hours

Indeed, being your own boss means flexible work hours if you choose. However, if you want your business to succeed and profit, you may work more hours than you did as an employee. If you play a crucial operational role, the time you put into your business will reflect on how much ROI you have.

According to a Startups report, entrepreneurs work an average of 50.5 hours per week, compared to the UK average of 37 hours. If you have employees, your work habit determines how they’ll perform. For instance, you can’t leave the office earlier than them or take long lunch breaks. So, expect to work longer than your nine-to-five as a small business owner.

2. Work Problems

The saying ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown,’ is true when running a business. As a small business owner, you cannot control the problems that may arise. Also, you don’t have the luxury of sweeping them under the rug and pretending like they don’t exist.

For instance, there could be problems with your small business public liability insurance, technology malfunctions, power outages, equipment breakdowns, etc.  These challenges test your leadership capabilities, and you have to be proactive in solving them.

Note that your employees will always look to you for solutions and your customers expect excellent services. So, your problem-solving skills will be tried and tested, and you can’t afford to fall short.

3. Funds

There are two types of entrepreneurs, people who secure funding and those who use their personal savings to start their company.

Most profits you make in the first three to four years will be reinvested into the business. In addition, you’ll be unable to pay yourself a salary even if you pay your employees. Therefore, work hard on achieving your short-term goals to allow you to have enough money to run the business and pay yourself.

4. Overwhelming Responsibility

When you leave a nine-to-five job, you’d think you’re breaking free of a dull, monotonous position. You’d reason that you can create your schedule and focus on different things. While this is true, the reality is sometimes different.

As a small business owner, you may handle more than five jobs and responsibilities simultaneously. As a result, you may feel overwhelmed and not know what to prioritise. Some of the activities you may manage are:

The above will be the case if you don’t have a staff or have limited employees. However, if you have enough staff, ensure you delegate. This way, your employees have more responsibility, creating loyalty.

Other challenges you may experience as a small business owner are:

  • Having a work-life balance
  • Staying motivated in the face of problems
  • Being up to date with the laws regulating your industry
  • Being creative

How To Overcome It

As a business owner, you’ll make mistakes, be frustrated several times, but also feel like you’re gaining ground. Thankfully, there are ways to overcome the bad times. We share some of them below.

1. Build a Community

Having an exceptional product and an audience is great, but you also need a community. Some people have walked the path you are currently on, and their advice can help you. So, reach out to them, and if there’s an industry association, consider joining it.

Also, get a mentor who you’ll share your wins and challenges with. Preferably, it should be someone in the same industry with a successful small business. Always have in mind that there are others who have suffered setbacks, made mistakes, and recovered. So, you can too!

2. Create Work-Life Balance

Another way to overcome the ups and downs of a small business is by creating a routine outside of work. You’ll likely experience burnout if you work over 50 hours weekly. So, schedule time for relaxation and non-work-related activities.

Yoga and meditation are two excellent ways of destressing. If you like either, create time weekly for them. If none of the two works for you, find what does and stick to it.

3. Don’t Stop Learning

If you fail to improve your knowledge as a small business owner, you will encounter difficulties. Therefore, keep investing in yourself by staying on top of the best practices in your industry. Additionally, know the trends in similar sectors.

Enrol in coaching and workshops, read books, and again, join a mentorship program. Doing this will give you the skills to keep developing your company. Finally, the more knowledge you have, the better decisions you’ll make, especially when experiencing ups and downs in your business.

4. Celebrate Your Wins

Your little wins might not seem like much in the large scheme of things, but they count. One thing you’ll learn as a small business owner is that small victories come quicker than significant milestones. Recognising them fills you with positivity and optimism.

In difficult times, focus on the things you’ve achieved and plan for more significant successes. Also, measure and analyse your victories versus setbacks, and figure out ways to act.

In conclusion, the most successful businesses experience up and downs. So, use the tips we shared on overcoming challenges. Furthermore, ensure you buy business insurance to protect your company. Contact us to get a quote today or at your earliest convenience.

Dean Laming

Dean is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 25 years insurance experience. Through various underwriting, operational and management roles, Dean has built up extensive knowledge of how to run a business and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Dean Laming

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