We spoke to three small business owners about what keeps them awake, how they unwind outside of work and how they manage their stress.
Griselda Soames, founder of Enchanting Bakes
Griselda Soames founded boutique biscuit bakery, Enchanting Bakes, in January 2016. The business started out selling to consumers but has now shifted its focus to corporate clients. It delivers handmade biscuits for corporate product launches, AGMs, pitches, trade shows and as client gifts, with orders ranging from 100 to 3,000 biscuits at a time.
Griselda says the most stressful thing about running a food business is making sure it operates within the rules and regulations. “Running my business is not just about baking biscuits - it is about understanding the needs and requirements of the business. I need to take the time and effort to ensure we remain compliant with tax and food hygiene regulations. We have five stars for food hygiene and take it very seriously,” she explains.
Griselda feels it is important to watch her own work-life balance. “The whole point of running my own business was to get away from the stresses and strains of working for someone else. You have to treat yourself like you would any other employee. You won’t get the best out of yourself if you are exhausted, but if you are happy and well-balanced you’ll be able to give your business your best.”
To help de-stress, Griselda goes running as often as she can, and has recently completed a 10K race. She also enjoys spending time with her family. “Take a step back, remind yourself you are doing something fantastic and doing it well, and reward yourself sometimes,” she adds.
Mark Haller, director of LogicSpot
Mark Haller is a director and founder of LogicSpot, a business which creates and supports ecommerce websites for clients.
The business has 26 employees, and Mark says hiring and retaining staff members, client satisfaction and finances are his biggest concerns. “The biggest stresses revolve around being a service company because without our customers we have no business,” he says.
Giving staff responsibility and accepting he can’t be involved with every decision has helped reduce his stress levels. “I am good at delegating and that was something I learnt when hiring the first member of staff. There is a lot I take on, and a lot I want to do, but I get that I can’t be involved in everything. I used to get involved in so many decisions on behalf of clients. Now I step back a bit more and let our staff make decisions too.”
He adds that hiring the right staff, retaining them and keeping them happy is also a worry. “At least one night a week I will wonder if someone is thinking of leaving,” he says.
To relax, Mark socialises with friends and spends time with his wife - who is also a director of the company - and their young boys. He also does Pilates, Yoga and “lots of walking - as much outdoor and nature time as I can get”. He and his wife take a regular acrobatics class together where they learn circus skills, which helps balance their work and home life. “We try to switch off from work as much as we can but you can get up in the morning and start talking about an invoice, a project or a member of staff, so it is tough sometimes,” he adds.
Becky Fuller, owner of BFit With Becky
Becky Fuller runs BFit With Becky which offers exercise, nutrition and coaching programmes and live fitness classes. Whilst she really enjoys being her own boss, she acknowledges it can also be stressful.
“The worst bit is the uncertainty - if my business fails then we fail as a family because if I don’t bring in the income that has a huge effect. There is no safety net,” she says.
Becky, who is married and has three school-age children, says organising her time well has helped make running a business less stressful. “You have to block out time to spend with your family and time to do your work and it does have to be that disciplined. I got to a point where I would pick up my children from school, get home and be responding to messages from people asking me about coaching. Then I decided I won’t work between 4pm and 6pm and it is no hardship.”
To unwind, Becky exercises, goes to choir practice once a week and makes time to meet friends for coffee once a week, too. “I am also mindful of making the effort to spend time completely unplugged and with the family at weekends,” she adds.