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8 Ways Business Owners Can Manage Their Workload and Reduce Stress


Running a business has many advantages and can be incredibly rewarding. However, it also comes with an inherent level of stress that can take a toll over time.

In fact, 41% of entrepreneurs cited running their business as the number one stressor in their life. Fortunately, implementing some key strategies can help reduce much of it. 

Here are some tips for better managing your workload and minimising your stress. 


1. Automate Everything You Can

One of the main benefits of technology is that it streamlines and simplifies many aspects of business. Regardless of the industry you’re in, there’s a good chance there are at least a handful of tasks you can automate using the right technology.

For example, chatbots can be used to answer common customer service questions and provide instant responses around the clock. A study by IBM found chatbots can answer up to 80% of routine questions, allowing business owners to focus on other core aspects of operations. 

Accounting tools like Xero allow you to send automated invoice reminders to customers before or after it’s due. This not only cuts back on the time you spend invoicing, it also reduces your cognitive load so you spend less time thinking about financials. 

Also, most types of customer relationship management (CRM) software can automatically place lead contact information into your database and assign each lead to an appropriate sales rep. This helps improve your sales funnel and capitalise on leads while they’re hot.  

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out this list of 20 ways you can automate your small business for more ideas. 


2. Prioritise Tasks

With so much on your plate, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But if you prioritise tasks and rank them in terms of importance, you’ll know what to focus on and can knock them out one-by-one. This is essential for developing a viable game plan and ensuring you don’t lag behind on your most pressing matters. 

Mike Kappel, CEO of accounting and online payroll tool Patriot Software, offers some great advice on prioritising tasks effectively. “Write down everything that you need to complete. Then, rank your tasks from greatest to least. The things you need to do first should be at the top of your list. As you work, focus on the most important tasks. Once you finish those, you can move down the list.”


3. Delegate

At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can handle yourself as a business owner. Piling more and more upon an already heavy workload is a recipe for burnout and something that’s all too common for many people. 

It may be due to budgetary restrictions where you don’t think you have the money to hire additional help, or you’re afraid no one else has the right skill set for the job. Whatever the case, it’s going to put you in a difficult position if you’re tackling a mountain of tasks solo. 

That’s why it’s important to delegate whenever possible. While you may still want to be responsible for critical tasks, it’s wise to bring on additional manpower. This can come in the form of traditional on-site employees, or you can look into other more tech-centric options, which brings us to our next point. 


4. Consider Outsourcing

There’s a growing trend where more and more small businesses are choosing to outsource to contractors, freelancers and personal assistants. Largely fueled by advancing technology, this is easier than ever and can benefit companies across a wide range of industries. And Australia is one of the top outsourcing markets, according to a 2017 report from multinational professional services network KPMG

Although there are a wide range of tasks that can be outsourced, some of the most common include customer service, administrative duties, marketing, accounting and IT. Going this route gives you access to highly talented individuals from across the world and can be an integral part of load management.


5. Use Project Management Tools

Another great way to stay on top of your workload and keep everyone on the same page is to use project management tools like Asana, Trello and Basecamp. These allow you to assign tasks to employees or outsourced contractors through a central dashboard and track them from conception to completion. 

Say social media was one of your main marketing channels, but you wanted to spend less time managing it. You could use project management software to oversee the workflow, assign content to different team members, send timely reminders when a task is due and upload documents. 

That way you always have a bird’s eye view of what’s happening and can stay organised.


6. Use Debt Factoring for Chasing Down Invoices

Slow or late-paying customers are an issue for many Australian businesses. In fact, a staggering 72.5% of invoices were paid late in 2016. Being in a situation where you’re constantly chasing down invoices can create stress and means you end up wasting time back-and-forthing with customers. 

As a result, a growing number of small businesses are turning to debt factoring — a type of full-service invoice financing. This is where a third-party lender pays you up to 80% of the value of an invoice within 24 hours, less any fees and assumes collections responsibilities. Once a customer has paid in full, you receive the remaining 20%. 

It’s an appealing option because you can get access to your money much more quickly, and you don’t have to deal with the distractions of chasing down payments.  


7. Be Realistic with Deadlines

Another big contributor to stress is setting unrealistic deadlines that are simply unattainable. This is especially common for newer business owners who feel pressured to make big promises in an attempt to win over customers. 

However, it usually ends up backfiring where business owners can’t deliver on time, creating friction with customers and bringing stress on themselves. On top of that, the overall quality of the work tends to suffer, which can negatively impact brand reputation. 

That’s why it’s important to think it through before making commitments and agreeing to a particular deadline. Be realistic with your deadlines, and try to give yourself some wiggle room in case of any curveballs.


8. Ditch Your Perfectionistic Mindset

You obviously want to run your small business with integrity and provide a quality product or service. But you can get yourself in trouble if you’re a natural perfectionist and pour every single ounce of effort into every task you perform.

This is problematic because it creates anxiety where you hold yourself to unattainable standards. It’s also a massive time drainer where you end up spending far longer than you should on each task. 

The solution? Only allot a certain amount of time for a task before moving onto the next one. For example, you might devote a maximum of three hours to marketing and then force yourself to switch gears and take care of sales, customer support, and so on.


Keeping Stress in Check

One of the major downsides of running a small business is the stress that comes along with a big workload. 

While it’s hard to eliminate it entirely, these eights tips should help you fine-tune your operations and keep stress in check. 

And if you ever find it’s getting to a point where things seem to be overwhelming or too much to handle, remember there a number of great organisations who can help guide you through.


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