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Study Reveals Surprising Results After Interviewing 1500 NZ Business Owners

We interviewed 1500 business owners and asked them “If they could change one thing about their business what would it be?”

Business owners in New Zealand face a lot of issues on a daily basis, and some of those are out of their control such as labour availability, recruitment and inflationary pressures. The past years of Covid have also had a huge impact on business so we thought it was timely to check in with business owners about their current situation.

Through this, we were a little surprised to discover that 51% identified that achieving work/life balance was the main thing they wished they could change in their business right now.

Looking deeper into the issue, we see that this is not isolated to New Zealand. Overseas business advisors and coaches are seeing the same trends and it is growing.

Why is it so hard to achieve work/life balance in business?

Our BSP advisors see work/life challenges on a regular basis with comments like:

  • It is so hard to get time to spend with my family as I’m doing such long hours and on the weekends. I am exhausted and it is not fun anymore.
  • I can't really leave the business for any length of time as things will turn to custard.
  • I am not sure how I can set up things that would give me more time off without costing me in lower profitability.
  • I have tried to write a business plan and employ more staff to free me up but it's just has not happened.
  • My phone never stops and I spend a lot of time involved in the office side of things when I should be out promoting my business.
  • I am always behind with my emails and wish I had a better system.

It appears that SME business owners are being pulled in all directions and potentially this is part of the reason they are struggling with work/life balance. This is better answered by psychologists, however our take on it is the business owner gets so tied up in the business that they can not see a way out.

Is there a name for this common problem?

Yes there is. It is widely referred to as "overwhelm factor" and has been diagnosed by some of the world's leading emotional health expert as ADT (Attention Deficit Trait).

As mentioned, it is becoming one of the biggest challenge to many business owners around the world coupled with the fact that a lot of business owners are very driven people and see it as a weakness by asking for help.

Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist and leading expert on attention deficit disorder has this to say:

Shouldering a responsibility to ‘suck it up’ and not complain as the workload increases, executives with ADT do whatever they can to handle a load they simply cannot manage as well as they’d like”

What are the symptoms of ADT and is it affecting you?

ADT stands for Attention Deficit Trait* and put simply ADT means the brain circuits are overloaded and simply can't process any more data. This leads to the business owner gradually losing the capacity to attend fully or focus on any one task to get it done.

What contributes to brain overload?

  • A tidal wave of tasks coming in daily.
  • Issues within the business such as cashflow, profitability, recruitment, and cost increases.
  • Family commitments and pressures from home.
  • Relentless requests from customers and staff members.
  • Emails mounting up.

What tends to happen next is the business owner goes into “overwhelm phase” and the following symptoms can be seen in daily life:

  • Distractibility
  • Impatience
  • Difficulty in staying organised
  • Procrastination
  • Pretending everything is fine
  • The constant low-level feeling of panic
  • A tendency to miss deadlines
  • Guilt because unable to keep up
  • Working in survival mode daily

The cycle continues relentlessly 24/7 and gradually gets worse.

The good news is this is not a disease but rather a state of mind that can be remedied.

The experts say that the brain (when in a state of ADT) has an extremely high overwhelm factor and becomes so hyper-focused on the day-to-day issues that there is no time to think of solutions, therefore without help, business owners can stay on this state for long periods.

How to fix Attention Deficit Trait

Once again we refer to Edward Hallowell, for a solution taken from his dealings with corporate executives. This applies to SME business owners also.

Hallowell stipulates the top priority is talking with others and sharing the load.

For a business owner, having someone to talk to and share the responsibility of business burdens is one of the key ways they are able to get past the overwhelm phase and start looking at meaningful solutions to turn the situation around.

As business advisors we are often in a business and our main role on the day is to just listen. Having someone listen to the issues then offer solid solutions to implement will fix the problem.

The BSP Advisory Group brand framework shows how we focus on this dimension of business owner and business success - the Support & Confidence pillar:

Hallowell has seen significant productivity improvements simply by educating business owners and their managers to speak out if they are spiraling out of control.

So getting a business advisor you can relate to and share the business problems with together is a great starting point.

More simple solutions that may help

  1. Eat nutrient rich meals
    Healthy food that feeds the brain is a good way to be clearer each day and look for solutions to avoid ADT.

    Here are some examples Salmon, Eggs, Kale, Sardines, Liver, Blueberries, Meat, Fish, accompanied by healthy salads, potatoes and red rice.

  2. Take some time out
    Do something relaxing such as walking on the beach, or spending time in a quiet area such as a city park. Sometimes just giving the brain time out will give you both time to think with more clarity. Don’t take the phone with you.

  3. Have an early night three times a week
    Rest is important to the brain and yourself, so an early night every now and then can be very valuable. Try to get 8 hours every night regardless and have a few nights where you achieve 10 hours.

  4. Resist drinking excessive alcohol
    Adding large quantities of alcohol to the mix just makes things worse and will impair your brain even further. It will also add to the fatigue so stick to water with the odd glass every now and then.

We hope this article helped some business owners and encouraged some people to take action, reach out and talk plus make some lifestyle changes.

At BSP Advisory, we have built our practice around a strong view that...

Business is a Vehicle for Life

A solid, well-running business is a key part of our strategy with clients for handling the "overwhelm factor". Things can be different and much better with someone to listen and make recommendations.

If you think we might be of some help, reach out and we would be happy to talk.