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Small Business Owners: What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

CoAdvantage – Far too many small business owners try to do too much themselves, only to end up overwhelmed by their workload. A 2022 survey from Capital One Business found that nearly half (42%) of small business owners report feeling burned out and more than half (52%) had taken no vacation in the past 12 months.

“Employers worked hard to stay afloat during the pandemic,” says Jay Woods, founder, and president of Omega Accounting Solutions, which released a similar survey that found two-thirds (63%) of business leaders say they lack resources to handle accounting issues like pandemic-related tax credits. “They simply didn’t have the bandwidth to manage constantly shifting business environments [and] learn and adhere to local, state, and federal regulations.”

It’s not just accounting and regulatory compliance. Small business owners often try to handle recruiting and hiring, marketing and advertising, benefits management and administration, product development and sales, customer service and support, and more – either all by themselves or by being significantly involved – but often lack the necessary resources, support, or skillsets.

And trying to do it all can hurt the business. Some tasks will be done poorly due to the lack of subject matter expertise, while others will be pushed aside because there’s not enough time. Worse, the owner’s priorities will almost always be dictated by today’s emergencies rather than tomorrow’s growth.

The number one thing business owners in this situation should do is get help, at least with non-core work.

Think of it this way: time spent on non-core work (like administrative or managerial duties) generates neither revenue nor business growth. If you can pay someone else less than the amount of revenue you can generate by focusing on core activities, then delegating or outsourcing will increase your business’ worth.

In other words, if you can earn $100 by working on revenue-generating activities for an hour, and you can just pay someone else $50 an hour to do the non-core work, that’s how you grow your business. Even better, you get people with dedicated subject matter expertise working, who can generate better outcomes because they know exactly what they’re doing.

Sometimes it can be psychologically difficult for the person who built a business from the ground up to let go of certain tasks. Plus, some work elements can feel core even if they’re not directly related to revenue generation or business growth. It might be helpful to get third-party input to discern what tasks truly need the owner’s time and attention; ask a mentor, advisor, or strategist for their perspective on whether you should really retain that task in your own portfolio of duties.

If you do get help, where should you turn?

  • For basic, low-priority tasks, try using virtual assistants or cheap freelance services.
  • For more complex and higher-priority tasks, like accounting or HR, look for credible, vetted services to whom you can outsource some or all of the functions.
  • As your business grows and its needs expand, hiring full-time staff will make more sense. In fact, you can often pair outsourcing with hiring to produce outcomes that are greater than the sum of the parts. For example, you can use an HR service to handle employment issues while hiring HR staff to focus on a big-picture workforce strategy.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.