Five stresses SMEs face and how to overcome them

Five stresses SMEs face and how to overcome them

Financial and emotional pressure may be costing you more than you realise, but good techniques are at hand to make a change

As a small business owner, there are many unforeseen challenges thrown your way that can impact health and wellbeing. Many SMEs experience feelings of isolation, burn out, and physical and mental exhaustion, making it seem as if there’s no way out.

Nearly half (45%) of Australian small business owners are feeling more stressed this year than in the 12 months prior, according to the inaugural Officeworks Small Business Well-being Index. In addition, feelings of isolation (22%) and burn-out (24%) are most prominent amongst SMEs, while two in five owners struggle with running and managing their business independently.

Despite this, only 25% of all owners have sought help for stress and only 9% are actively seeking advice or support from their peers and colleagues.

As a demonstration of support, Officeworks has launched the Small Business Coach – a coach travelling across the eastern seaboard hosting free breakfast events for SMEs throughout NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

To help owners work productively and fruitfully, three of the Small Business Coach’s ambassadors share their tips:

1. Acknowledge your financial stress

The financial burden of running a business often inflicts more stress than when you’re just dealing with your own personal finances, according to co-founder of online wine retailer Vinomofo Andre Eikmeier.

Having bootstrapped a startup, Eikmeier says he put himself and his family under a lot of strain.

“One day you’re working all hours every day, feeling stressed and constantly challenged, and the next your key card is bouncing at the supermarket checkout with your wife with two young kids in tow… No wonder not everyone does this!”

If you’re wearing too many hats, remember to value your interests, advises Eikmeier. Whether it’s cooking, running, or gardening, you need to prioritise ‘you’ time.

2. Stop carrying the emotional burden

“Your employees have needs. Many people depend on you and the company for not only their financial security, but for their personal and professional fulfilment,” says Eikmeier.

Such burdens can have a ripple effect on your health and relationships.

“Don’t work at night or on the weekends. In fact, don’t even talk about work in your free time.

“It doesn’t help to carry the stress, so stopping to breathe and focus on the immediate task at hand helps you avoid feeling like you’re drowning in problems.”

3. Combat feelings of loneliness with support networks

Founder of Carman’s Fine Foods, Carolyn Creswell stresses the importance of recognising family commitments as being equally important as your work commitments.

“Be in the moment at work by powering through the day and getting as much done as possible so as to leave on time. It’s also just as important to be present at home,” she says.

4. Minimise workplace stress

A business owner must be very aware of their own level of stress, and the stress levels of their employees, to ensure harmony in the workplace.

“In our workplace we’ve commissioned a 12 month ‘Mindful Wellbeing’ program for everyone, which is a two-hour workshop once a month,” explains Eikmeier.

Little things such as maintaining a well-organised office, or clearing out your inbox at the end of every day are very effective, adds Creswell.

5. Wearing too many hats? Share the load

Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute, Dr Timothy Sharp, says you don’t have to do it all on your own; reach out and connect with others who might be able to help.

“Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and find a way to reconnect with your passions and original goals.”

Don’t neglect your physical health either.

“We’re all busy, but it’s hard to be happy and productive if you’re sick and tired.

“Fit in some exercise, eat well and get adequate sleep,” he says.

To find out more about improving your work wellbeing and productivity, browse a range of helpful articles and videos at

Written by: Thea Christie


Officeworks is Australia's leading retailer and supplier of office products and solutions for home, business and education needs. Officeworks offers customers more than 20,000 products on its website, catering to micro, small and medium business customers - you'll be sure to find exactly what you need with our widest range all at the lowest prices.

Partner content