Everyone has stuff that keeps them up at night, but small business owner concerns are a totally different animal. So we took some time to gather up the most universal not to perpetuate fear, but to share some tips on how you can address—and conquer—even the most daunting small business worry.
The Bank Account
For just about every small business owner, the bank account (more specifically, the bank account balance) is the barometer of success or failure. How often have you been up until the wee hours of the morning, lying in bed thinking about the amount of money in the business bank account? (If your answer is "never," congratulations, you're in the minority.) While nothing is going to stop you from worrying about how much is in the business's bank account, there are a few things you can do to worry less. For starters, get a sense for your monthly recurring expenses. That way you'll know exactly how much will already be earmarked as "out the door." And speaking of expenses, look for places you can trim! On the top side, send your invoices out faster to reduce the time it takes to get paid.
By no means are we saying that small business owners worry about their family more than non-small business owners... it's just a different kind of worry. Perhaps you put a lot of personal capital into the business. Or maybe you left a comfortable corporate gig for the entrepreneurial path. Ultimately, a lot of small business owners worry about their family in the context of "what would happen to us if the business fails?" That's a totally valid concern. You combat that concern with planning, specifically a back up plan. If you haven't already, take the time to identify what you would do if your business failed tomorrow. Could you keep paying yourself? For how long? What would your next career move be? Start something new again? Gain employment elsewhere? How would your business's failure correlate to your total household income? (Hint: Talk about this stuff with your spouse, partner, etc.!) Bottom line: have a plan. You'll worry less.
If your business is more than just you, you undoubtedly feel a sense of obligation to your employees and their families. After all, as much as you took a chance on them, they're taking a chance on you! Most businesses with a small staff are tightly knit so there's a natural level of personal concern. But beyond that, you, the employer, can be left feeling like you're under a mountain of responsibility. Say cash flow is a recurring concern for your business. That's going to make you worry about payroll. Similarly, from an employer-employee relationship perspective, how do you prepare for and handle slow periods? A clear definition of the values and culture you want your company to reflect can help ease the level of worry you have when it comes to your employees.
An audit, or any other revenue agency-related inquiry, always seems to have a place in the back of every small business owner's mind. While navigable with the right business practices, documentation and record keeping, audits are scary. They feel invasive. They take massive amounts of time and energy. There just simply isn't a small business owner that doesn't think about this. All that being said, there's no way to fully eliminate that worry. However, preparedness can help. Keep accurate books. Maintain copies of all correspondence between the business and the inquiring party. Communicate fully with an accountant or tax prep professional who can become your best ally in an audit scenario. And simply remember this: you will get through it.
Pro Tip: Here's what to do if you get audited.
What else keeps you up at night? Discuss in the comments!