It comes as a surprise to many that small business owners often work longer, more hours than employees. Running a small business is one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding experiences that one can ever have. From the packaging of supplies to constant restocking, and upgrade of tools, all while having to keep up with staff payments and responsibilities, we explore why the management of a small business takes so much more time, effort, and commitment than one would normally think.
1. There’s no such thing as a holiday for small business owners – in fact, most of the time, that’s when they need to work.
If your small business cannot function in your absence, then you do not own a business per se, but a job! Small business ownership sure comes with many rewards but sadly, time off may not be one of them. If anything, owning a small business may well mean kissing holidays goodbye. In 2017, almost three-quarters of small business owners worked on Thanksgiving despite having planned to take the day off. In 2020, nearly half of small business owners worked more than usual due to business lost to the pandemic.
2. Some business owners are staying at home moms, work a second job, has several businesses, and work different hours to accommodate the needs of the business
Balancing the unpredictable lifestyle involving the management of a small business while parenting can be quite involving and one can only imagine how the rigor of it all increases for stay-at-home who have to cope with the responsibility of working a second job. There are only 24 hours in a day and stay-at-home-moms are almost always made to contend with stress and psychological guilt arising from self-perceived parental neglect. That said, pulling off the arduous task of owning a business, working a second job, and parenting comes with many rewards from personal benefits, financial rewards, and improved family life.
3. A huge amount of the previous year’s revenue earned throughout the year goes back into stocking supplies, upgrading tools, paying for staff, business development.
When running a small business, there is nothing more rewarding than taking a look at the financial statements that reflect profits. Yes, this is an indication that the business strategy is working. However, there is always a need to restock, pay employees, and engage in essential business development activities. Sadly, all these come at a cost, and most of the funds to fulfill these expenses come from the previous year’s revenue.
4. A small business may not ever pay themselves a wage in order to have the cash flow for the business.
Expenses such as overhead operations are some of the realities of running a small business and they go a long way in determining whether owners are able to pay themselves as wage. The need to meet costs such as bookkeeper fees, marketing, maintenance, inventory, tax, and Internet subscriptions limits the availability of funds for small business owners to pay themselves. Unfortunately, these expenses cannot be avoided because they are needed for the business to function.
5. Some inventory, such as perishable goods, have an expiry date and a small business owner may not be able to recoup these costs due to unforeseen circumstances (ahem... COVID)
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed many small businesses in awkward situations where they can just wake up to supply and/or demand can be randomly disrupted for one reason or another including but not limited to government-mandated stay-at-home orders or labor shortages. Extreme weather has only added to the list of ongoing supply chain shocks and market uncertainties that end up leaving small business owners unable to recoup the costs of perishable inventory, a cause certainly not helped by rising food prices. Some owners worry that rising prices may put their businesses in positions where they may never experience pre-pandemic normality.
6. Storing inventory requires space and inventory systems. These have their own overhead costs that some business owners don’t include when they first start their business
Many small business owners do not factor inventory holding costs into their budget calculation only to find that storage costs could end up costing anything in the range of 10 to 15 percent of an actual item’s initial cost. These figures for storage will only go up when hidden costs such as maintenance, warehouse personnel, and transport are taken into account. Thus, inventory management is a task on its own and it helps to establish a clear plan that would keep costs down.
7. Packaging and handling costs are handled by business owners and if lucky staff members instead of automated machines so it takes longer than drop shippers
Shipping, warehouse storage, and packing costs would fall under the handling costs that small business owners would have to incur. This fee would of course go up if specific workers are employed to perform this activity. It is another very involving activity that involves time-consuming activities such as the generation of shipping labels and it becomes even harder when it comes to the movement of heavy inventory.
8. Loving what they do is part of being professional in owning their business but it doesn’t mean they don’t have bad days
Enjoying one’s career is important and it is no secret that doing something that one loves is always fulfilling and stimulates productivity that stands to lead to success. Successful small business owners strive to make their work more than just a mere source of income. With the line between work and personal life becoming more blurred than ever, finding a way to derive personal fulfillment from small business management not only increases one’s level of happiness but also helps one appear professional.
9. They have failed many many times over and continue to fail in order to see a bit of success might be seeing now
Small business success requires patience and things often look hopeless in the first couple of years. That is perfectly normal. No need to panic. After all, most small businesses take a good three years to become profitable. Owners often have to wait as much as 10 years to become what they can call successful.
10. Making tough decisions every day to say yes to the things that will help grow the business which sometimes means no to things that personally matter (family +friends, health, sleep)
Successfully running a small business will, unfortunately, come with the need to sacrifice a substantial amount of time that one would rather spend with family and friends, as well as keeping one’s health in check by getting sufficient sleep. Balancing business and family time is one of the classic struggles of small business owners. It is about remembering that supporting that same family is partly the reason why the business exists.