The importance of personal stock taking for Africa’s SME owners

It is nearing the time of year when many individuals start winding down and preparing for the festive period, after a long and possibly strenuous year. For many small and medium enterprise (SME) owners however, business comes first, which often results in no period being set aside for relaxation and rest, which is necessary to prepare themselves for 2014 and the new challenges that come with it.

Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners Limited, says although separating work life from personal life can be a challenge for many business owners, especially during their first five years, this balance is vital in order to ensure a healthy and stimulated business.

He says a business owner’s hours often do not fall during traditional work hours, due to the demands and responsibilities that running a business entails. “While business operations may require long hours, and as a result time with family and friends is sacrificed, this should not be the norm for any business owner.”

Martin points to the Wheel of Life model, which explains that in order to become an optimal functioning person, an individual needs to develop seven areas, namely: financial, family, mental, work, social, physical and spiritual. “If the business owner only focuses on financial and work aspects 24/7, the other aspects of his or her life will suffer. Individuals who develop and give time to all seven developmental areas in their life are able to cope better with stress, have more meaningful and lasting interpersonal relationships with others, and are generally more optimistic about life.”

He adds that the benefits of maintaining this balance will quickly reflect in their business as this balance allows time for the business owner to not only recharge, but also to reflect on past actions.

“Self-refection is one of the key personality traits of an achiever. Self-reflection requires taking the time to assess actions that have been taken and the consequences thereof. Self-reflection is also about being aware of strengths and weaknesses and understanding how to use and develop both to become a whole and successful person on all levels of your life, as indicated in the Wheel of Life model.”

Martin says in order to achieve and maintain a work-life balance, self-management and time management is needed. “If a business owner burns out and develops serious health problems, the business can be negatively affected. Self-management will therefore ensure that a business owner eats healthily, gets enough sleep and maintains good health generally.

“Management of a business owner’s schedule is another aspect that is crucial to finding a balance between work and personal life. Scheduling ‘down time’ or ‘me time’ will enable business owners to recharge their batteries and remain alert, focused and goal-orientated. Similar to how long and medium-terms goals are set for a business, business owners can plan their time ahead and include time for relaxation.

“Business owners undoubtedly work very hard, and often do not think twice about putting in the extra hours due to the love they have for their business and what they do. While this passion for their trade is encouraging and positive, it is important to have a balance to enable reflection and downtime, as a business cannot be strong if the owner isn’t,” concludes Martin.