How Healthy Is Your Business


We’ve all heard a lot about it over recent years. By now, we all know we should be doing more to improve ours. But, as small business owners, there’s always too many other things to do: marketing to rollout, projects to finish, revenue to generate, customers to satisfy.

The ‘to-do’ list is endless and so many small business owners are not finding enough time to spend on health-giving activities or have simply lumped it all in the ‘too hard’ basket.

So, I ask you: “How well are you and how is this impacting your small business”?

Clearly, there are a few facets to this question, so let’s break things down a bit.

Firstly, to make sure this article is actually relevant for you (because we don’t want to waste your time if it isn’t!) what do we mean by small business? Well, we use the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ definition which is one that employs fewer than 20 people (including micro businesses and sole proprietors) (1). Simple. So, if you own a business that falls in that category, read on!

Now, according to the Australian Taxation Office there are over 2 million people in Australia just like you (and I) – small business owners – accounting for 96% of all Australian businesses (2) and contributing over $340 billion to the Australian GDP (3). As at the end of June 2014, we also employed 4.7 million people which is roughly 45% of private sector employment (4).

So, we’re kind of a big deal in the bigger picture, right?

But, a recent survey by regional lender and insurance company, Suncorp, shows more than two-thirds of small business operators have experienced personal challenges including fatigue, financial stress, loss of motivation or relationship strain because of their work (5).

In short, this survey showed that many of us are prioritizing our business over our personal wellbeing. And, when we consider there are over 2 million small business owners in Australia, this would suggest over 1.3 million of us are not doing so well at being well.

Whilst it is difficult to find mental health data specifically for small businesses, consider, too, that 1 in every 5 Australians will suffer from a mental health problem each year (6) and if we extrapolate these rates it means about 400,000 Australian small business owners are potentially at risk of developing mental health problems every year.

Hmm… not so good.

But, research has shown that exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating and effective stress management are good for our physical wellbeing but also contribute to positive mental wellbeing.

In turn, we also know that good mental wellbeing is an enabler of high performance – in business and personal matters. And, ultimately, when we have good physical and mental health and are performing at a high level, we can achieve high levels of life satisfaction.

So, are you prioritizing your health and finding the time to exercise, to eat well and to allow for enough sleep? Are you managing your stress in such a manner that you are mitigating your risk for mental health problems?

Small businesses are an extremely important part of the Australian economy, and beyond the personal benefits for the business owner, there are many other people and businesses (clients, contractors, staff) who need you and your business to operate at a high level, delivering high value.

But, sadly, the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests more than 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within the first three years. The reasons for this are varied, and none specifically call out poor wellness as an underlying cause.

However, if one thinks about the need to be mentally and physically healthy in order to achieve high level performance, it goes without saying that poor physical and mental health can negatively impact performance and thus cannot be discounted as a contributor to small business hardship and, at worst, failure.

And so, to conclude, I would hazard a guess that you are a hardworking, dedicated business owner who will do just about anything to ensure you satisfy your customers and to see your business go from strength to strength. I’d also guess that at some stage in the past, if not currently, you have put your work ahead of your health.

The internal commentary at the time may have been something like “I’ll get back to the gym once this project is finished” or “I just need to do a few late nights to get back on top of things”… but then weeks, months, years down the line you find you never actually reverted back to those healthier activities or routines.

As I’ve described above, not putting some focus on your health and wellbeing is detrimental to you and potentially to your business. So, it begs the question: “How well are you and how is this impacting your small business”?

If the answer to this question is less than favourable, then what are you prepared to do about it?

As a small business owner myself, and a health coach, my number one wish for you is to realise just how important your health is…to you, your family and your business.

Without it, life is bound to be more difficult. However, by consistently implementing just a few health-giving activities and routines, you really do have an endless array of opportunities available to you…both in business and in life.

Think carefully. Choose wisely. And, thrive!

If you would like some tips on how to make positive, lasting changes in your business, click HERE to access our ‘Small Business Owner: Performance Maximiser’.