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Overcoming the strain of ‘doing it all’ in small business

Turning your passion into a profitable business means you have to wear many different hats. Regardless of what industry you are in, you have multiple responsibilities to take care of.

One of the biggest sources of stress for small business owners is the strain associated with ‘doing it all’.

People often start a business with a keen focus on their primary area of expertise. You may have technical skills in your field, but not necessarily all the other required skills to run a business. Even when you’ve been in business for a while, the pressure associated with being responsible for everything can take a toll.

This can create significant pressure, especially if you have to learn on the run with little formal support or training.

One of the best ways to reduce this strain is to design your job so you have an appropriate balance between your job demands, and available resources and support. This doesn’t mean only doing the parts of your job you like or are particularly skilled at, and avoiding those you don’t. It means being clear about your role, identifying your strengths as well as skill gaps, and exploring what support is available to bridge the gaps.

Finding this ‘job fit’ in line with your skillset can improve your satisfaction in your work, which is essential to wellbeing, rather than struggling with unfamiliar jobs outside of your skillset. The first step to support this process is as simple as writing yourself a job description.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re selling something or making something, you’ve got to be a bit of a Swiss army knife, and you’ve got to be able to do a bit of everything - finance, media, marketing, a bit of this, a bit of that.

Alan, small business owner

Tips to get started

Identify what you actually do in the role

This task may sound obvious, but the thought process involved is really important. You are essentially writing your own job description. Write down everything you do, ranging from the everyday tasks, to the less frequent but essential duties such as BAS. Also include the activities that you currently aren’t getting time to do. Next, identify the skills required to perform these tasks and highlight those skills you already possess, as well as those you still need to learn or improve.

Assess your capacity to complete all these tasks

Now that you have identified all the activities within your responsibility, consider whether it is realistic for you to achieve all the tasks on your job description. Are you confident that you have the necessary skills for each of the key functions? Highlight the areas that you have identified you could improve upon, or you are struggling to fulfill due to other pressures.

Prioritise tasks based on business essentials

Identify which of these tasks are essential to your business’s function and which are more secondary or supplementary. How much time do you allocate to each task? Once you have a clearer picture of the full responsibilities for your role, you will be in a stronger position to improve your “job fit”. If you have identified that it isn’t feasible for one person to do all of the responsibilities, you can now consider what additional support you can bring in to fill the gaps.

How to fill your skill gaps and make the most of your time


There are many different learning options you can pursue outside of traditional education centres. Many organisations now provide short training courses online and in person, as well as workshops and coaching. TAFE has subsidised courses for NSW small business owners.


Are you making the best use of your suppliers? It is worth discussing with your current suppliers about whether they have other services that could support you. Get a quote from other business services to see if it is viable for you to outsource, for example, your bookkeeping, marketing and sales or reception services. You may find it more useful to outsource home chores, such as gardening or cleaning.

I love all the elements of running my salon. So, I have outsourced the housework – I have a live-in au pair to help with the kids, a gardener and a part time personal assistant to keep my home life running smoothly.

Jenny, hairdresser

Pooling resources with other businesses

Sharing resources with other businesses is a popular option for small business owners to access professional support in a cost effective way. Business hubs and other co-working spaces provide ready access to administration support and equipment, as well as meeting spaces.

Contra deals

Consider how you can create networking opportunities with like-minded business owners, where you can find ways to exchange services with each other, at reduced or minimal cost and mutual benefits.

Business advisors

There are a range of free (or subsidised) Australian business advisors for small business owners located across the country that can help you maximise your skills and time within your business.

More Resources