VistaPrint, the design and marketing partner for small businesses, has revealed that despite the long hours, small business owners (SBOs) have a better work-life harmony working for themselves. The research found over half of small business owners (52%) started their own business to improve their work-life balance, this jumping to 58% for those aged 45-54.
Of those asked, two-thirds (63%) experienced a positive change to their work-life harmony since starting their own business, with a quarter (24%) agreeing it had improved more than expected.
VistaPrint SBO ambassador Piotr Skoczylas, owner of coffee cart Stol Coffee based in Wales, started his own business during the pandemic to combat loneliness. “I live in Penarth, Wales and through working with coffee I found that the community here is great. When the pandemic started and I was furloughed from my job as a coffee shop supervisor. I decided to quit my day job to start a community focused, coffee business venture. This decision helped me to find my values and even though I probably work harder I’ve ever done – it all helps me to find myself and be myself which helps me to celebrate and build the community. Through this work I learned how to ask for help and when I do I find live/work harmony much more balanced.”
Similarly, Catherine Davis, founder of Catherine Davis Designs started her business to help combat her struggling work-life harmony. “I’m sure many working parents can relate to the battle of juggling a full-time job in the office and being a parent, a full-time job in itself. Starting my own company means I have true autonomy and the flexibility to see more of my children. I may have to work some evenings and weekends but this is a sacrifice I choose to make so I can have breakfast every day with my kids – it’s ultimately my decision and I love it”.
The research also found that small business owners often have to work many roles, with 46% undertaking more than five roles and 11% spreading themselves thin with ten roles in their business. The many hats small business owners have to wear span across customer care, sales, accounting, finance and marketing.
Owner of community empowerment organisation My Runway Group, Kojo Marfo, understands the art of juggling many roles in his business. “Since starting my own business over ten years ago, I’ve learnt how to wear a thousand different hats to ensure the business runs smoothly. When you start out, you can’t afford a professional so you have to learn fast or make some serious mistakes along the way – any support or tools for small business owners go such a long way”.
Like Kojo, Mel Love from The Sound Bank London has many roles in her business but she doesn’t see it as a bad thing. “Being solely responsible for most of your business makes you less vulnerable as an entrepreneur and earns you a higher level of respect as a professional. It’s important to have support where you can but understanding everything that happens in your business is important.”
Out of all the additional roles, small business owners are dedicating a lot of their time to marketing and design, with nearly a quarter (22%) spending 3 to 4 hours a week on it, while another 16% is spending 5 to 6 hours a week on it. Whilst a good chunk of entrepreneurs are spending a lot of time on design and marketing, worryingly 1 in 10 of them do not engage with any marketing or design at all.
22% of those surveyed said they were unsure about the quality of their own skills, 13% that external marketing and design support would greatly relieve the pressure of running their own business and 9% that they feel completely out of depth when it comes to marketing and design.
“Small business owners are some of the hardest working in society – especially with the added pressures linked to the current economic landscape – and whilst their work-life harmony may have improved, it is important that they get help from the right support networks to minimise stress”, says Sabine Leveiller, Sr. Marketing Director for Europe at Vista. “Whilst work-life harmony will mean different things to different people, Vista wants to exist as a partner to aid and celebrate small businesses, providing the people that run them the tools to wear at least one less hat and maximise work-life harmony”.