Barry Au, director and audit specialist Wisteria Accountants
Up to one in 20 people suffer from generalised anxiety disorder. Amidst economic uncertainty and inflation, more and more business owners are suffering from financial anxiety.
The pressures to stay afloat and drive businesses forward is high, and that’s causing financial-related stress. To celebrate Stress Awareness Month this April, we’ve compiled a guide to help you cope with stress and thrive as a business leader.
What is financial anxiety?
Financial anxiety is a worry or unease about your money matters, which can be caused by a variety of reasons that are not necessarily related to a lack of funds. Feelings of unpreparedness and uncertainty in your circumstance are some of the most common financial stress factors.
As a business owner, for example, you are faced with the responsibility of running a business. This can result in you becoming stressed about current inflation, as well as paying the bills and your employees’ wages, filing taxes, or failing your business.
Instead of resorting to a business loan, why not take care of your mental health?
Financial stress can be detrimental to health in the long term. In order to deal with it, planning ahead is essential. Here are some ways to reduce financial stress as a business owner:
Steps to cope with financial stress
A recent study by the New Zealand-based accounting software platform for SMEs Xero examined 500 small business owners’ relationship with stress. The respondents pointed out several causes of stress, including managing staff, admin, feeling personally accountable for the success of the company, compliance, filing taxes, and economic conditions. All of these can lead to financial anxiety.
Business-related stress can have a negative impact on the owners’ mental health, and one in 10 agreed with that fact. As a result of stress, 41% of those surveyed reported having sleepless nights, 21% were drinking more alcohol, and 13% experienced arguments at home. Missing out on social events, binging on junk food, and neglecting exercise are other effects of stress.
Surely, being stressed as a business owner reduces or efficiently and can largely impact the success of your business.
Here are the top solutions to help you cope with financial anxiety, based on the stress factors outlined in the survey.
Hire the right people
The fact that you’re a business owner doesn’t mean that you have to be running a one-man show. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs have an army of highly qualified and dedicated people behind them, who are helping them drive their business forward.
The UK government outlines hiring and training staff as a main business growth step. That way, you can spread the workload and focus on the truly important tasks. Apprenticeships are a great way to find people who are motivated to learn, help and can easily become valuable full-time employees.
Having an HR manager and a good company culture will help you target the most talented people. In the Xero survey, 42% of the respondents identified managing staff as one of the biggest stress factors. In order to mitigate that stress, develop a robust company structure that incorporates team managers overlooking their own staff.
Teamwork and a feeling that everyone is working towards the same goals is essential, as 31% of the survey respondents feel responsible for the success of the company. With the right people on board, the weight can be lifted from your shoulders.
Develop financial competency and confidence
Another reason why the responsibility of driving your company’s success might be causing you financial anxiety is that you don’t feel prepared or confident enough.
Financial confidence measures one’s ability to manage finances responsibly through a variety of tools. It helps business owners make smart decisions and chart their financial growth.
In a 2018 Financial Capability survey, it became apparent that financial confidence was tightly correlated with current financial well-being. Similar findings from national surveys in Norway and Canada also support this. However, it also showed that 47% of the respondents do not feel confident making decisions about financial products and services.
In order to gain more financial confidence, start by upgrading your financial literacy. You can sign up for a course, regularly read financial periodicals and personal finance books, and seek professional help. A competent financial advisor can provide you with first-hand knowledge, and increase your financial literacy in turn.
Carry out an audit
In the Xero survey, 35% of respondents reported feeling anxious about admin duties and 26% admitted feeling stressed by compliance.
“Financial anxiety while running a business can be felt most strongly when overlooking issues or underperforming areas, which is where a small business audit can help. Audits are compulsory for businesses that turnover more than £10m, but they can be of use to businesses of all sizes. Audits can highlight problems, help to identify seasonal trends, and pinpoint products or service lines that are struggling,” said Barry Au, director and audit specialist at the leading tax and business advisers Wisteria Accountants.
They can also help you relieve some pressure from the process of filing taxes, which is a stress factor identified by 19% of Xero survey respondents. Pressure can be relieved because you will have a better understanding of your business finances and be well-prepared to structure your paperwork.
While you may never learn to love the audit process, you can, at least, embrace it and use it to improve your business. Find a trusted audit partner who will be able to help you interpret the findings of your audit and turn the learnings into a vital part of your future business growth strategy.
Your well-being as an entrepreneur is vital. You are the heart of your business and it’s important to run it with a clear and calm mind, so that you can make the best decisions that will take your business to the next level.