The mental and economic stresses, strains and challenges of running a small business in a constantly challenging marketplace continue to grow.
According to the results of a new national survey of small business owners:
- 42% of small business owners said they have experienced burnout in the past month; 24% reported they are currently experiencing burnout.
- 48% of respondents cited rising inflation as the biggest challenge they faced in the past year.
- 71% of small business owners reported that inflation has had a negative impact on their business in the past three months.
Inflation, which recently reached a new high, continues to take a morning toll on small businesses. Bloomberg reported “The NFIB Small Business Optimism index dropped in March for the third month in a row. And small businesses shed 120,000 jobs in April, while larger companies increased their payrolls, according to ADP Research Institute figures released Wednesday.”
Responding to Inflation
The new Capital One survey found that small business owners had taken the following actions to help mitigate the impact of inflation:
- 27% built up their cash reserves.
- 23% preemptively raised prices.
- 21% purchased more inventory.
The economic challenges, notwithstanding, nine-in-ten small business owners were confident their business will be operating in the next six months.
Steven Tripoli is the co-founder and co-owner of Fichi, which makes Italian-style fig and almond snack foods. “Having started the company in Fall 2021, we were in a unique position to factor inflation-affected costs into our pricing structure, which has kept us resilient so far.
“We are also fortunate that the majority of our raw materials have been so far relatively unaffected by rising commodity prices. I know of many food companies getting crushed by ingredient costs increasing 200-300%+, in some cases.
”We are not experiencing anything close to that, but we’re still not immune. Rising fuel prices have driven freight costs higher too,” he concluded.
The survey from Capital One and NextGen Chamber of Commerce was conducted between March 25 and March 30, 2022, among a sample of 1,200 small business owners and 300 auto dealership owners. The margin of error was +/- 3%.
Small businesses were defined as those with total annual revenues of less than $20 million. The auto dealership owners each owned a dealership with an approximate annual sales volume of at least $1 million.
Burnout On Top Of Burnout
The current burnout being felt by business owners is building on top of the mental issues created by the Covid pandemic.
A survey earlier this year from Capital One Business found that many business owners were exhausted. And for good reason. According to the company, the survey found that “small business owners are acutely feeling the impact on their mental well being and their ability to maintain work-life balance as a result of navigating pandemic-related disruptions and fluctuating mandates across the country for
“And this burnout is likely…compounded by additional challenges, including rising inflation, The Great Resignation, and the current Omicron surge.”
Advice For Small Business Owners
Janice Litvin, the author of the Banish Burnout Toolkit, said that “unreasonable workloads and deadlines eventually cause burnout. True burnout is defined by the World Health Organization as chronic stress that is not successfully managed.”
She noted that “Small business owners are especially prone to burnout because often they wear many hats and find themselves working late into the night.
Litvin noted that “One of the most obvious micro clues for the small business owner is that of snapping at a loved one or even a co-worker. Quite often when you catch yourself snapping at someone you care about or work with, that is a clear indication that you are stressed about something else. So pay attention to those little incidences of acting out,” Litvin recommended.
She said other clues include:
- Mental or emotional exhaustion.
- Sensitivity to feedback.
- Angry outbursts, especially in meetings.
- Sleep problems.
- Eating or digestive issues.
- Feelings of resentment, dread or being ineffective.
Self Care Tips
To avoid falling into the burnout trap in the first place, Litvin suggested that small business owners keep the following recommendations in mind:
- Call a friend or better yet, spend time with that friend.
- Get out in the sun.
- Take a walk or perform any movement, such as visiting an interesting museum exhibit. If you do feel yourself melting down in the middle of the day, take a 10-minute walk around the blog.