small business owners

Study Explores the Current State of American Small Business Owners

The early bird gets the worm. Nice guys finish last. You snooze, you lose.

Sound familiar? As entrepreneurs, we’ve all been hardwired, to some extent, to believe that the more hours we put in and the more we invest in self-preservation, the easier it will be to beat the competition to the punch.

You hear a lot about work-life balance, but if every other entrepreneur and small business owner in your industry is getting a competitive edge by working non-stop and all but giving up their lives outside of work, how can one maintain a solid position in the market?

Is it true that small business owners and entrepreneurs get less sleep, take fewer vacations and still feel dissatisfied with their status? TSheets by QuickBooks wanted to find out.

In honor of the SBA’s National Small Business Week (which fell April 29 to May 5, 2018), they surveyed 200 small business owners to find out just how much work you do, what you give up to do it, and the biggest personal and professional challenges you face.

Half of you wake up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

… And 1 in 5 wakes up at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.

If this resonates with you, you just might be one of the hard-working small business owners we’re talking about. Early to rise are those in business for themselves. Even with nobody to answer to, and with more flexibility in your schedule, you’re more likely to wake before the sun and start your workday. What’s more, 38 percent of small business owners say work regularly or always keeps them up at night.

Related: 12 Online Small Business Resources to Help You Grow

A 50-hour workweek is the norm

Regardless of how early you might wake, it’s likely you might work overtime trying to meet the lofty goals you’ve set for yourself and your clients or customers. It’s not uncommon for small business owners and entrepreneurs to work 50 hours (or more if you’re the 12 percent who works 60 hours) in a single week.

A quarter of small business owners say they often work weekends

Weekends might be sacred for some, but for nearly 25 percent of you, weekends are often (about every other week) given up in favor of more work.

And what about sick days? Over half of small business owners say they rarely or occasionally take time off when they’re sick.

How to break the habits

We all know that working too much and not getting enough sleep is bad for your health. And if you’re passionate about reaching your goals, you’ve got to set time aside to refuel.

Here are a few areas of your daily schedule you can change today, in order to rewire your habits and get an actual edge on the overworked competition.

1. Sleep harder

Getting up early isn’t a sin. But if you’re coupling that early-to-rise mentality with a sleep schedule that’s interrupted by stress and anxiety, you’re going to feel worse during the day and bring less of yourself to the table. Make an effort to leave work at work and get a full eight hours of sleep every night.

2. Put a cap on overtime hours

Obviously, you can’t predict the future, so give yourself some wiggle room here, but put a cap on the hours you work in a single week. Track your time, and if you don’t finish everything that needs to be done in those hours, put it on the list for next week. It might take some adjusting, especially if you’re used to working yourself into exhaustion, but you (and your business) will be better off for doing it.

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3. Promise yourself at least one full day off per week — and stick to it

One in three survey respondents said they miss family or social gatherings at least once a month. If you don’t mind working on the weekends, that’s up to you. Give yourself at least one day off sometime during the week to recharge those creative juices.

4. Choose your health

As tempting as working through an illness might be, turn off your email reminders, set an away message, alert your team and customers, delegate if you can, and take a time off to get better. You’ll think more creatively and be more helpful to everyone when you are well.

As entrepreneurs, it’s in our blood to overachieve, but that business mentality shouldn’t come at any cost to your health and overall wellbeing. There are better ways to innovate, strategize and produce without losing sleep and letting yourself fall into a slump.

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