What’s the Biggest Finance-related Problem Keeping Small Business Owners Awake at Night?

The biggest finance-related worry for small business leaders is managing cash flow.  Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed cite this issue – as a key concern.  There are five key issues affecting small business owners the most:

  • Managing cash flow
  • Being as tax efficient as possible
  • Understanding the profitability of the business
  • Not having an up to date picture of business performance
  • Raising finance for growth/expansion

A UK study surveying small business leaders showed that over half (53.6%) of small business owners believe they routinely suffer from sleep deprivation as a direct result of finance-related work worries.

While there is strength in numbers within bigger organisations, small business leaders have fewer colleagues to share their concerns with and exchange potential solutions.

Of those who said they are routinely sleep deprived, more than one in eight say that their concerns interfere with their sleep most nights.  The more finance-related concerns a small business leader has, the more their sleep suffers.  Having three or more such concerns typically, results in them losing sleep up to once a week.  Not a healthy space.

So what solutions could help you sleep better at night?  

It’s not all bad news.  The survey showed that small business leaders are proactively seeking solutions to their finance related work worries – with certain tactics appearing to be highly successful, including;

  • Asking their existing accountant to do more – minimising tax efficiency was a close second to cash flow as the most worrying issue for business owners. Consider meeting regularly throughout the year to help understand and interpret data and exchange ideas for business growth, as well as discussing complex issues such as tax advice.  Your accountant can be your virtual CFO, sitting at your right hand and working with you to achieve your goals and keep you to task.
  • Taking on more financial oversight, personally – effective financial management gives you tools to chart your course into the future, adjust your direction when needed, and help you find your way through challenging times. It’s your business so you need to take ownership, be accountable and responsible.  Keep focused on the dashboard driving your business and seek advisors dedicated to assisting you.
  • Moving to an online/cloud-based accounting system – this tops the list for alleviating finance-related concerns. Having up to date management information and an accurate handle on profitability throughout the year (instead of just at year-end) gives a clearer idea of present and future cash positions.  Xero is an excellent cloud-based system option.
  • Employing someone full or part time – using accountancy services more, rather than doing everything yourself, can leave you free to focus on what you’re good at (and most passionate about).
  • Changing accountant – typically old school accountants don’t help manage cash flow. Look for an accountant willing to work with you proactively throughout the year and embrace new technology.

By pro-actively tackling their finance-related concerns, business owners are not just getting a better night’s sleep; they’re also able to deliver more growth within their business.

There’s a saying “You don’t drown when you find yourself under water…you only drown when you stay there!”

Poor cash flow is only ever a symptom of something else that is going wrong – focus on the cause to fix this easily and permanently.  Follow Trish’s five simple financial action steps for both your business and personal life.   Remember, the only reason most people don’t have a good financial situation is because they don’t DO the steps suggested.

How about you?

What business worries keep you awake at night?  We’d love to hear your feedback, to establish if NZ business owners really do align with the UK survey.  Please contact us with your comments and feedback.

Learn more on Understanding Business Cash Flow and Improving Business Cash Flow with these workbooks, or find out more about a Business FITS Health Check for your business.

We have heaps of business tools and workbooks available to help you run your business.



  1. I would totally agree.
    10 years ago we opened this business as part of a national franchise. I employed a P/T Accounts Support to help me in the business. I found however I was still trouble shooting finance matters and chasing in debtors. This distracted me from my core roll of business development and relationship building.
    Following a Business Network Meeting I decided to approach two of the members of my group to explore what they had to offer in the way of advise and support. The first was easy, I asked a Registered Financial Adviser to review my business loans along with my mortgage. It didn’t take him long to demonstrate how I could save money (reduced interest) and restructured my loans to part fixed and part floating. It didn’t even cost me anything as he earned his fees from the banks.
    The second involved my ‘new’ accountant, yes I moved on. I was stuck having to use MYOB as part of my Franchise Agreement so we had access to good data – not cloud based unfortunately. I eventually appointed my Accountant (using his labour base) to manage several aspects of the business that were keeping me awake at night. Creditors Ledger, Sales Ledger inc sending statements, Wages calculation and Paye, Tax (business and personal), Bank recs and Creditor payments. This was all remotely managed by giving a dedicated staff member remote access into our MYOB. Don’t get me wrong I still had total control, I still authorised payments, collected money (easy when you look for repeat business), managed staff, supervised design, purchasing, production functions and general management – even cleaning the office. But I was leaving the accounts to the experts.

    Here I am now 10 years into business and completely debt free from business loans and mortgages. We have new vehicles, we own outright our production equipment and are now taking on sales staff to take us to the next level. We have cash to manage new equipment buys and can run a late/night shift to meet anticipated demand.

    The P/T Accounts Support had to go of course but I now sleep at night and the cost of my ‘outsourced accounts office’ is easily covered by the departed P/T personnel.

    1. Thanks for your comment Roger. It’s great to hear about the challenges you faced and the changes you made to improve your financial situation. We welcome more success stories to inspire others.

    1. Thanks for your comment. We’d love to assist you further with any business issue you may be facing.
      You’re also most welcome to come along to our free workshops – Trish Love will be touring Australia in May 2018.

  2. Managing the cashflfow is definitely hard and nedeed an attention. I think that your article is very helpful. Thanks for sharing this. I learn a lot from this article.

  3. I also believe that cash for financing the business is the first thing to consider in running a business. I also think that business owner must put attention to the business cashflow because I believe the business will the go through when it has a negative cashflow. This is a very helpful article. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi, thank you for your comment, we appreciate your feedback. Yes, cash is king and it’s important to consider cash flow when setting up a business, as well as preparing forecasts and monitoring progress.

  4. Yes, I totally agree with what you said. I think that it is better to hire an accountant or employee who can do accounting and can also embrace the new technology because I think that new technology can help to grow the business. Thanks for sharing this article.

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