Small Business Owner Stress – How to Manage It Effectively

Small business owner stress creeps up on you unannounced amid the flurry of day-to-day activities. The stress of small business ownership arise from a variety of factors which take a toll.

Many entrepreneurs find themselves juggling multiple roles and constantly being “on high operation mode” to ensure the success of their business, leaving little time for personal well-being and relaxation.

Small Business Owner StressStressor #1 – Money Related Issues

First and foremost, the financial burden of running a business, such as managing cash flow, dealing with unpredictable revenue, and shouldering financial risks, can create significant stress.

Stressor #2 – Putting the Right Systems and Processes in Place

Processes are aligned across different areas of the business
Processes are aligned across different areas of the business

Many business owners begin their journey with a business plan – which in itself a good thing as this creates a purposeful foundation for the business.

Unfortunately, most do not thoughtfully establish the right systems and processes in place at the onset and these often develop by default, rather than design.

For example, keeping business expense receipts in a shoebox, and keeping a pile of invoices here and there is not a system for cost management and it will eventually create stress as you struggle to remain on top of it all!

Worse still, imagine the challenges you will face if you do not have a system of documented procedures you follow in operations……This is fertile environment for business chaos!

Stressor #3 – Pressure to Succeed and Critical Decision Making

Stress is further compounded by the pressure to succeed and compete in a competitive market, the responsibility of making critical decisions, and the need to constantly adapt to changing market trends which all contribute to elevated stress levels.

Moreover, the long hours and relentless workload often associated with small business ownership can lead to burnout and a poor work-life balance.

Major Small Business Owner Stress – Stressor #4 – Managing Staff

People management can be a huge stressor because there are so many angles to it. Being a jolly leader is insufficient to address the following day-to-day challenges:


Effective communication is essential for a harmonious work environment, but miscommunication or lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and added stress.

To manage this, establish clear and open lines of communication. Encourage regular team meetings, provide feedback and guidance, and operate a culture of open dialogue.

Try to use communication tools and platforms – that work for your business – to facilitate efficient and transparent communication within the team.

Ensuring Employee Performance and Engagement

Making sure employees are productive, motivated, and satisfied with the job can be stressful.

Set clear performance expectations, provide regular feedback and recognition, and offer opportunities for professional development and growth.

Many business owners fail to recognize when their employees themselves are stressed and may attribute poor performance to incompetence which may not be the case.

Reasons for poor performance can include unclear instructions, poor work-life balance, lack of team spirit, and stress.

Promote a positive work environment that values teamwork, work-life balance, and encourage employee engagement.

A Major Stress of A Business Owner – Conflict Resolution

Managing conflicts among staff members can be quite challenging and require appropriate conflict resolution strategies, such as actively listening, fostering a culture of respect and inclusion and effective mediation.

Encourage open and honest conversations to address and resolve conflicts quickly.

Failure to effectively address conflict in the workplace can be like cancer. It breeds a toxic environment and an unhealthy work environment which can sometimes result in employees leaving the business.

Delegation and Trust

Many business owners struggle with delegation, fearing that tasks won’t be completed to their standards. However, trying to do everything alone can lead to burnout and increased stress in themselves and their employees.

Stressor #5 – Managing Suppliers and Contractors

What processes do you have in place to source for and check the reliability of your suppliers or contractors to deliver quality parts and services on time?

A haphazard arrangement will always cause you grief and loss of customers as you fail to meet their deadlines.

Signs of Small Business Owner Stress

Processes are aligned across different areas of the business
Business man with a briefcase still making a dash even as nighttime sets in

Business owners need to understand that they cannot keep running around to do everything by themselves. They must learn to recognize these stressors and implement strategies to manage and alleviate stress.

This can include seeking support from mentors or business networks, practicing effective time management, and prioritizing self-care.

Stress can manifest in various ways, and recognizing the signs is necessary to address it effectively. Here are five common signs of stress to look out for:

Physical Symptoms

Stress can manifest physically, leading to symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, backaches, fatigue, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

Business owners and employees alike may experience frequent illnesses, digestive issues, or increased susceptibility to infections.

Emotional Changes

Stress can significantly impact emotions, leading to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed. You may experience difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or have racing thoughts.

You may also become more withdrawn or exhibit signs of restlessness.

Behavioral Changes

Stress can influence behavior, causing business owners or employees to engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as increased alcohol or drug use, overeating, or withdrawing from social interactions.

Procrastination, increased aggression, or difficulty managing responsibilities may also occur.

Cognitive Symptoms

Stress can affect cognitive functions, leading to memory problems, lack of focus, decreased productivity, and difficulty in problem-solving or decision-making. Constant worrying or pessimistic thinking can occur.

Relationship Challenges

Excessive stress can strain relationships, leading to conflicts, decreased communication, or withdrawal from loved ones. It can impact personal and professional relationships, further exacerbating stress levels.

Management Techniques

Recognize Small Business Owner Stress

The first step is recognizing that you are stressed. Reading through this article will already have given you an epiphany into some of your stressors.

The next step is a choice. Choose to make the necessary changes yourself as outlined in this article, or engage the services of a fractional management consultant to assist you to make changes quickly and without upheaval to the business. Talk to Us TODAY because we can help.

Recognize Employee Stress and Provide Support

Supporting employees through stressful times is essential for their well-being and the overall success of your business. Open communication is key to providing support.

Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where employees can share their concerns and stressors. Actively listen to their needs and provide reassurance.

Offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, to help employees manage their commitments and achieve a better work-life balance.

Related Articles

What Causes Chaos in Business Operations – Time to Stop it

Conclusion – Small Business Owner Stress

Learn to avoid small business owner stress. The secret of a successful business is healthy and happy employees – including you the business owner. Contact us to help you create order and get off the road of stress TODAY.


Kappel, M. (2017, October 26). 5 Tips for Small Business Stress Management. Entrepreneur.

10 causes of stress for small business owners, and how to cope. (2019, April 17). Maxwell Davies.

Managing stress and anxiety | Small Business Development Corporation. (n.d.).

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