SME bosses reveal biggest entrepreneurial concerns

Small business owners are plagued by isolation and an inability to delegate, according to new research conducted by Servcorp.


The serviced office company recently invited Australian small businesses to share their work-related concerns for the chance to win $5,000.


The competition attracted 176 entries and was won by Kylie Nash, founder of online baby gifting service Bubs in Arms, based in Queensland.


In addition to rising overheads and red tape, competition entrants identified isolation, delegation, time management and work/life balance as their main concerns.


Nash says her inability to delegate tasks is her biggest concern, based on a fear of losing control.


“Every facet of my operation is ultimately up to one person, and that is me… The biggest challenges are in relation to marketing, social media and web development, and then having time to carry out action plans,” she says.


“The issue then becomes being confident to delegate tasks and lose some control by relying on others to carry out your vision.”


Nash’s concerns are similar to those held by April 5 founder Alicia Beachley, who recently spoke to StartupSmart about her inability to delegate tasks in the early stage of her business.


“For me, thinking I could do it all and save money [was a mistake]. It’s not a matter of saying no to clients – it’s the tasks within the agency that hindered me,” she said.


“A really good example of that is that I took on all the bookkeeping and then we got busier and busier. I was having to manage MYOB files and expenses and everything else… But when I started to work ridiculous hours, I had to start giving parts of the business to other people.”


While some business owners run the risk of “becoming” the business, others are concerned about the impact it will have on their work/life balance, particularly if they work from home.


Claire Gresty, creator of children’s online fashion store The Little Dress Making Company, says her greatest concern is being unable to escape work.


“When it’s your baby, it’s hard to step back and get perspective and maintain a work/life balance. My business feels like an extension of me as a person,” she says.


Following on from this concern is the issue of time management; considered something of an art for small business owners.


Borge Prinsloo, of catering company Mr Roast, says small business owners have to undertake so many roles simultaneously that it is often hard to find the time to do it all.


“Then there’s the time management part of prioritising your day-to-day tasks into what needs to be done today and what needs to be done now,” he says.


The Servcorp competition highlighted isolation as another major factor affecting small business owners; an aspect of business that many entrepreneurs struggle with.


Keri James, founder of independent travel agency iTravel, says her greatest challenge is working alone because “when something great happens, telling my dog just isn’t the same”.


Marcus Moufarrige, chief information officer and sales director of Servcorp, says small businesses need to utilise technologies and join communities in order to ease these concerns.


“Advances in video communication and cloud computing have enabled people to reach broader markets, and have better communication with clients and contemporaries,” he says.


“Running a small business can be a lonely experience, and joining a business community can help not only to alleviate the isolation, but also in terms of generating fresh ideas and perspectives.”


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