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May 22, 2019 Chandra Philip-Lye

How much time small business owners really spend on their business

"You work until you achieve what you need – whether that's your first product launch, first customer sale, first year of $100,000 turnover or whatever. If that takes 20 or 70 hours a week, so be it.”

Business owners spend about 17 full non-workdays worrying about their business, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by web hosting company GoDaddy, surveyed 500 small businesses in the U.S. to find out what life is like as a small business owner.

What researchers found was that many business owners have difficulty switching off after hours. According to the study, over half of those surveyed struggle to put work behind them at the end of the day.

In fact, 41 percent of respondents said they were often called to deal with business issues even when they were trying to take a break. Study participants indicated they lost four hours of free time every week because they had to respond to business issues.

In addition, researchers noted that 40 percent of small business owners spend up to three hours each week talking on the phone for business purposes. The majority of those calls (85 percent) are made on their personal phone.

Working more doesn’t spell success

Research done by The Alternative Board found that most business owners work an average of 50 hours per week, with 68 percent of that time tackling daily problems and tasks and just 31 percent on strategically growing their business.

Participants in the study also noted that most time was taken up by emails or administrative tasks that should be delegated.


Over 40 per cent of small business owners find it difficult to leave work behind them at the end of the day.

While working long hours can feel like the company is developing in the right direction, it is better for small business owners to be strategic where they spend their time, according to serial entrepreneur Nallie Akalp.

She noted in a Forbes article that some business owners mistake hyperactivity for productivity.

“Too many entrepreneurs burn the candles at both ends, yet only move sideways and not forward,” Akalp wrote. “When considering each customer request, event, marketing, or partnership opportunity, think about how it fits into your overall game plan and priorities.”

For small business owners, the amount of time put in is not always the best measure for success. Rather, it has been suggested that small business owners find different ways to gauge success.

“When you’re an entrepreneur, the hours you work are a meaningless measure,” Christine Baker, co-founder and director of Strategic Nudge told Business News Daily.

“You work until you achieve what you need – whether that’s your first product launch, first customer sale, first year of $100,000 turnover or whatever. If that takes 20 or 70 hours a week, so be it.”

As well, because small business owners are responsible for more of the day-to-day tasks of the business, they will naturally spend more time working.

“The entrepreneur is spending a lot of time doing tasks that would be better served by someone else,” Elizabeth Girouard, CEO and founder of Pure Simple told Business News Daily.  

“This is one of the main reasons many entrepreneurs work more than 40 hours every week.”

Changing workforce

Considering that nearly half of Canadians are expected to be self-employed in the next year, it is important for those individuals to be aware of where their time is spent.

Data from Statistics Canada showed that in 2017 just 14 per cent of Canadians were self-employed. Yet, a report by Intuit Canada has predicted 45 per cent will be running their own business by 2020.

Statistics also reveal that 97 per cent of business in Canada are small businesses. That includes 2.8 self-employed solopreneurs.

This will be good news for those small business owners who are spending too much time on business tasks. These business owners will be able to benefit from hiring a contractor to help manage the load. It can also mean they can spend more time focusing on the important issues of running their business and less time on tasks that can be delegated.

Chandra Philip-Lye

Chandra Philip-Lye is a freelance journalist based in the Lower Mainland. She has experience in print journalism, television newcasting and online publications. You can see more of her work at http://chandralye.pressfolios.com/.