05 Jun

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Unpredictable cash flows; limited work-life balance and inaccessible business support mechanisms are contributors to the stress experienced by small business owners in the Durban Central business district revealed a research study undertaken by a recent Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA) Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate, Ms Kanchan Aaron.

About 153 small business owners ranging from grocers, bakeries to clothing store owners were surveyed for the study titled: Stress and Burnout Amongst Small Business Owners in the Durban Central Business District 2013. The research was aimed at ascertaining the levels of stress among small business owners, its correlation to burnout and its impact on their business.

Findings revealed that 38.2% of research participants experienced high levels of stress; 38.8% encountered moderate levels of stress and 23% low levels.

“I believe that the future of our country lies in small business and entrepreneurship and if we can promote this, we will go a long way in alleviating the unemployment crisis that we currently face and secondly to find the primary stressors or obstacles that could hinder growth in this sector,” explained Ms Aaron, a Corporate Consultant for a financial services provider.

Application of the research methodology, Pearson Correlation Co-efficient revealed that the business owners who are exposed to stress for a prolonged period will eventually experience burnout.

Majority of the business owners surveyed highlighted unpredictable cash flow, limited funds and escalating business costs increased their stress levels.  Adding to their (business owners’) stress levels were unreliable suppliers, demanding employees and longer working hours.

“Work-related stress is most likely to occur when there is a mismatch between the demands of the job and the resources and capabilities of the individual to meet those demands,” said Ms Aaron.

According to the study the inability among small business owners to achieve a work-life balance elevated stress levels. “A major potential stressor is the interface between work and home, often referred to as the work-life balance.  Lack of support and understanding from a spouse can lead to conflict between roles with regard to responsibility over others. A large majority agreed that finance to support dependents was a major cause of stress,” Ms Aaron elaborates.

Ms Aaron said she was surprised to discover that limited support structures were available to small business owners in the Durban Central area. She added that support mechanisms that were available were not easily accessible to small business owners.

Business owners who are affected by stress and burnout must seek emotional support and assistance from family and friends suggests Ms Aaron. She indicated that seeking assistance from a third party would make the business owner experiencing stress feel understood and presents an avenue for attaining assistance in appraising the situation to determine if the importance given to the situation is important, as initially considered.

From a physical perspective, Ms Aaron suggested that small business owners can alleviate stress by firstly switching off from work when they are away from their work environment. Secondly, enjoying activities with family and friends and undertaking relaxation inducing therapies such as yoga.

Commenting on her MBA journey Ms Aaron said: “I feel great about achieving the MBA and wish that more people would attempt it.  In terms of my career, I believe that I must champion that part and steer my life in the direction that makes me happy. MANCOSA made my MBA journey a memorable one!”