IN the wake of R U OK? Day on September 14, a South Windsor business owner has reminded others about the importance of mental wellbeing when running a small-to-medium-business, and urged those affected by stress-related illnesses to seek help.
Regular setbacks for SMEs include increased competition, staffing challenges and cash flow problems, as well as more personal and emotional challenges such as an ever-present fear of failure.
Co-founder and managing director of JetBlack Australia, Tony Simmonds, said he had experienced pressures in the past, and didn’t want other business-owners to risk their businesses, health and personal life.
“Running a business brings a host of challenges, and I’ve certainly experienced personal lows where my wellbeing has been negatively impacted by business issues,” he said.
“In the early days, the pressure to make JetBlack Australia a success meant I put many hours into work and sacrificed family time which significantly affected my marriage.
JetBlack Australia is a sporting goods store that supplies to road riders, mountain bikers, triathletes and recreational cyclists. The company began in 1996 by making and selling its Superlight mountain bike pedals, and has grown to supply over 60 products to over 38 countries.
“As an entrepreneur you’re always projecting an attitude of success, so for owners to put up their hand and admit they need help can be quite an obstacle,” said Mr Simmonds.
Research on more than 500 SME owners in May and June in Australia found more than one in 10 have been diagnosed with depression, stress or anxiety, due to the emotional and psychological strains of running a small business. Despite this, almost half said they’d be unlikely to talk to someone about their business difficulties.
The research was performed by Bank of Queensland and is set-out in a July 2017 whitepaper called ‘How SMEs Can Protect Their Emotional Wellbeing’. It sets-out a framework for SMEs to find help, and advises they can approach professional business advisors, executive and business coaches, and colleagues, peers and mentors.
SMEs can also source assistance from government organisations and education materials, as well as from friends and family members, the report said.
Stephanie Thompson, founder of Insight Matters – a corporate psychology and coaching business based in Avalon – who is quoted in the whitepaper, said there’s a good reason why most large businesses employ business psychologists and coaching psychologists.
“They understand that success can be generated by optimising the performance of key staff. However, small business owners usually don’t factor their own functioning into this equation even though they are the business’s lynchpin,” she said.
“The cost of falling sick for three weeks from stress-related illness, for example, isn’t just medical. It’s lost earnings, lost business opportunities and, more importantly, the tremendous wellbeing costs. A single decision can translate into a five or six figure gain or loss.
“Business coaches can get SME owners out of a rut by helping with commercial decisions, resolving procedural inefficiencies or staff performance problems. This, in turn, can alleviate stress, anxiety and family challenges.”