As we near the end of the financial quarter, more and more small business owners are talking about overwhelm. Quite simply, they’re feeling the strain of trying to accomplish too many tasks in too little time.

And they’re far from alone in this sentiment. A recent National Australia Bank survey found just under half of all small to medium business operators felt overwhelmed by the day-to-day of running a business.

So, let’s return to the topic of overwhelm and the simple strategies you can embrace to overcome it.

A bit about overwhelm

In 2017, the National Australia Bank found 71 per cent of Small to medium enterprises believed Australia was a great place to have a business, but just under half felt overwhelmed by the complexity of running a business.

They noted 48 per cent of business owners felt overwhelmed by the feeling of wearing too many ‘hats’ at once, while 57 per cent of Australian SMEs spend too much time working “in” the business instead of “on” the business.

So, what can you do? Well, managing the familiar feeling of overwhelm comes down to keeping the big picture in mind, and understanding what needs to be done to achieve it. It’s about clarity, knowledge and simplicity.

Clarity – What’s your plan?

A clear, written business plan serves a purpose far beyond the initial start-up days of an enterprise. It offers the road map for where you want to go and how you aim to get there, and should serve as a reference point at any time of the business journey.

This plan should incorporate your ultimate goals, not just business-wise, but also personally, because at its heart business should offer you the lifestyle you deserve.

That makes revisiting your plan imperative, for a whole host of reasons. Reassessing this plan allows you to understand:

  • Whether your plan still aligns with where you wish to go
  • Whether you have accomplished the steps you hoped to achieve
  • What you need to focus on to get to the destination you’re aiming for

Revisiting this plan may tell you:

  • It’s time to change course
  • You have strayed from your initial destination
  • You still have boxes to tick off to get to where you want to go

Knowledge – What are your strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats

Your strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) will change throughout the life of a business, which makes a quick analysis a must-do for business owners experiencing overwhelm.

Importantly, SWOT may tell you things about your business you have missed. It might reveal:

  • You are wasting energy by failing to play to your strengths
  • You need systems and procedures to address your weaknesses
  • There are opportunities you would be wise to embrace
  • You need to implement strategies to manage threats

Knowledge – What do your numbers tell you?

The answer to every business question is in the numbers your business produces, but too often business operators fail to know the important numbers and more importantly what they mean.

Your numbers tell you a range of things, like:

  • The effort required to secure a sale or client
  • The cost of your time
  • Whether your pricing is adequate or prohibitive
  • Whether your service or product lives up to client expectation
  • Where new opportunities lie
  • Which areas are weak

Knowledge – systems and procedures

One question business operators often fail to ask themselves is: is there a better way?

In other words, am I undertaking this task, selling this product or marketing my business in the most effective way possible?

That might mean you look to automation for simple tasks like invoicing, or customer relationship management, but it might also mean you assess the systems and procedures of how things are done within your business.

Clear systems and procedures allow you and your staff a comprehensive understanding of what’s expected to occur, when, and how it is meant to happen.

It takes away the guess work, which brings us to simplicity…


Simplicity is the antithesis of overwhelm. It is the state of understanding what needs to be done, how long it will take, and how exactly a task will occur as you work to the destination you want to reach.

By looking at all the factors above, it becomes simple to identify what’s working and what isn’t, where your attention should lie, whether there’s a better way to achieve your aim and what needs to be done to make the process easier.

Then you can look at easing the burden of business through simple measures like hiring staff or outsourcing tasks, while you concentrate on the actual jobs that will improve your business and help you reach your goal.

You can learn more about dealing with business overwhelm here. For more strategies, tools and further assistance with business development, goal setting and planning, contact Clive Enever –Business Mentor, Coach and Strategist. Or learn more about goal setting as part of the Monday Motivation series here.