SME leadership and work-life balance - Business Works
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SME leadership and work-life balance

Ed Reeves, Co-founder of Penelope Micro business owners Ė businesses with nine employees and fewer Ė are working an average of 52 hours a week, according to recent research by Penelope. Thatís nearly 63% longer than the average Britís working week.

Our survey also found that entrepreneurs in London were found to be working the longest week at 61 hours compared to those in Scotland who were working an average of 46, says Ed Reeves, Co-founder of Penelope. Despite working long hours, these business owners remain buoyant about the future and clearly have long-term goals as another recent survey found that small businesses are increasingly optimistic about their growth in 2014.

Itís clear from the survey that the level of commitment and investment micro-business owners are making in order to make their businesses a success has no boundaries. However, that level of commitment often means that many of these micro-business owners are in a virtuous cycle when it comes to time and money. Nearly 60% of those surveyed said that they would prefer to have more money than time. Clearly, micro-business owners are willing to invest personal time right now in order to have more money long-term.

The reality is that being the owner and operator of a micro-business means being responsible for a multitude of roles and being all things to all customers. As many micro-business owners are both time and cash-strapped, they need to make the most of every day because the amount of time being squeezed into the working week is enormous.

Choosing how much time to invest in a business can sometimes be a tough decision, however. Continual advances in technology mean there are tools available to ensure that businesses owners are never out of touch with their business. Tools like video conferencing for flexible working and call answering services can help entrepreneurs alleviate some of the pressures they face daily, facilitate a more flexible way of working and ultimately allow them to be more comfortable about the work they 'leave behind' at the end of the day.

good work-life balance

While burning the midnight oil has its obvious benefits, there is still something to be said for having a good work-life balance. Evidence shows that 'down' time, adequate / regular sleep and time spent with family and friends helps boost brain power and ultimately makes workers more productive. Rather than never shutting down, itís imperative to use tools like technology products and other outsourcing services, to help establish a balanced approach.

5 top tips to finding a work life balance

  • Schedule down time. Whether you literally block out time in your diary for a few hours or work from home once a week, itís important to make time to process your day and give yourself 'blue sky thinking' time.

  • Limit meetings. Time and time again research shows that meetings inhibit creativity, waste time and make workers more lethargic. Consider having a meeting free day during the week or ban meetings after 2pm.

  • Create and enforce boundaries. If you work from home, set a work schedule and area and stick to it. Promise yourself not to work on weekends, on evenings or during vacations unless it is literally an emergency. Remember we should work to live, not live to work!

  • Make time for your health. Many entrepreneurs find it best to start their day early with a workout, whether itís a light jog or lifting weights, exercising can give you time to think. Listening to music while exercising can also give a buffer from work, where many people do their best thinking.

  • Spend time with family. A work-life balance is more than just your own world, it can encompass the lives of your partner and / or family. Itís imperative to surround yourself with people who are open and honest with you and ultimately keep you grounded.

For more information about Penelope, please visit

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