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Business owners back decision to go it alone

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Business owners know what it takes to strike a work-life balance with research revealing many are in it for the long-ride.

According to Suncorp research, nearly half of small to medium business owners are happy with their work-life balance, with only one in ten dissatisfied with how much time they prioritise their business over their personal life.

Personal challenges such as financial, mental and emotional stress also start to decline at the three-year mark, and continue to decrease the longer the business has been in operation, according to the research.

With work-life balance being a priority for many people starting a business, Suncorp’s State Manager, April Cavanagh, said the findings were encouraging with work-life balance satisfaction increasing with tenure.

“Many believe the first three years in business are a real test of survival and can be a roller coaster full of ups and downs, but our research shows that it’s worth hanging on for the ride,” Ms Cavanagh said.

“Once SME owners pass the three to five-year mark they become more confident, satisfied and less likely to experience personal impacts resulting from work challenges.”

While SME owners are generally happy with their current situation, the research highlighted the challenges of finding new customers, with one in five citing customer acquisitions as their biggest hurdle.

Ms Cavanagh said finding new customers was hard for SMEs of all tenures and sizes, however it’s was a bigger problem for sole traders, as well as newer businesses.

“With the rise of the freelance ‘gig economy’ more Australians are choosing to go it alone in business, meaning the competition for finding and keeping new customers is fierce.

“One of the best ways to overcome this is to carve out a niche for your business and address a customer need that is not being met elsewhere. It’s also critical to understand your customers and how to engage with them.”

Other key findings:

After finding new customers, the most common challenges business owners face in attempting to achieve business goals are; maintaining adequate cash flow (26 per cent), competition from big business (26 per cent), meeting legal and regulatory guidelines (21 per cent), keeping up with technology (18 per cent), finding good staff (18 per cent), lack of time (16 per cent) and role overload (15 per cent).

Location also influences satisfaction with work-life balance. Western Australian SME owners are the most satisfied (62 per cent) followed by New South Wales and those in Australia’s Capital (52 per cent), Queenslanders (49 per cent), South Australians (42 per cent) and Victorians (41 per cent). More than half (54 per cent) of those living in regional/rural areas reported being satisfied, compared with under half (46 per cent) in metro areas.

This story was first published in The Fence magazine.

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