Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sleepless in Small Business

What, I hear you asking, stresses entrepreneurs most? Is it the banks, government regulation, high taxes, or that underperforming sales manager in Tucson?

Last year, international consultants Grant Thornton polled more than 6,000 CEOs in 24 countries to find out what keeps them awake at night. Here are their 10 biggest sources of stress:

Increasing competition: 43%
Economic environment: 38%
Cash flow/pressure on profit margins: 37%
Regulation/red tape: 36%
Not enough time with family/friends: 32%
Shortage of leisure time: 32%
Keeping up with technical developments: 24%
Change in audit requirements: 23%
High volume of e-mail: 21%
Wealth and how it's tied to the business: 20%

Stress Factor No. 11 is also worth noting: relations with partners and shareholders (19%).

So what do you do with this information? You’re in great shape if your products or services give businesses an edge on the competition or insulate them from economic swings. If you can help them boost profits or master technology, you’re in like Flint.

Plus, focus on how you can save business owners time. For many, that's a scarcer resource than money.

And think twice before trying to sell them on e-mail-based services. They already have more than they can handle.

(Canadian entrepreneurs, by the way, ranked middle of the pack in terms of stress levels. Most stressed were business owners in Turkey, Poland and Russia [wonder why?]. Least stressed: Netherlands, Italy, France and the UK.)
But the stress-free life isn’t always best: Canadians ranked near the top (and well above the above nationalities) in terms of their outlook for their country’s economy over the next 12 months.

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