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When owning a business becomes overwhelming - An insider's view, Friday 31 March 2023

Owner-managed-business owners have a particular set of challenges to navigate. Matt Purser – Director of the Firebird Partnership – outlines their unique issues, and offers a basic foundation for support.

“Owners who manage their businesses are ultimately responsibly for every aspect of their company”

Running a business is an incredibly challenging, rewarding experience. It can be overwhelming, too, especially when you’re also the business owner.

Owners who manage their businesses are ultimately responsible for every aspect of their company, from sales and marketing, to operations and finances. And while they may be highly capable in certain areas, there will inevitably be tasks and responsibilities that fall outside their skillset.

This is a challenge that is often underpinned by a few key issues:

Limited Resources

Many small businesses operate on limited resources, which often results in a lack of specialised personnel on hand. It’s not uncommon for owners to find themselves taking on tasks at which they’re not skilled because they can’t afford to hire someone else. This is especially true in the earliest days, when cash-flow is typically tight and profits low.

Lack of Delegation

As the owner of the business, it’s natural to feel a personal need to be involved in every aspect of it. This is their baby after all, and they may have a strong sense that only they can understand what it needs – meaning they don’t ask others to share the burden of their workload. As a result, they may unwittingly miss out on expert guidance that could take the business to an exciting next level.

Need for Control

Tied in to that last point, many business owners also have an impulse to control all parts of their business. While this can be a positive trait in some situations, it can also be problematic when it comes to tasks outside of an owner’s skillset, as they may not have the expertise or knowledge to do these well. Ultimately, this can hurt a business’s prospects.

“One person can only do so much”

What can you do as an owner-managed-business owner to address these challenges, and maximise your capabilities? Below are some basic steps to get you started.

1. Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses

What tasks are you particularly good at? What tasks do you struggle with? Take time out to appraise these topics honestly. This will help you assess the true requirements of your business, and recognise when tasks should be delegated to others who can successfully fill in the gaps.

2. Build the right team at the right price

Getting the right team around you is essential, and worth your investment for any future growth. If you don’t currently have the resources to employ permanent specialised personnel, consider creating a team of freelancers or contractors who can help with tasks as and when you need them. This is a cost-effective way to get the support you need without hiring full-time employees.

3. Invest in training

If you find that you’re doing tasks outside of your skillset because your skillset itself is lacking – and you want to address this personally – consider investing in training or education to improve those skills. The same, of course, goes for other staff members you work with.

4. Let go and re-focus

Finally, work on acknowledging that balance of control and letting go. Sometimes this can feel extremely difficult, almost impossible; especially if you’re used to doing things in a certain way. However, it’s a necessary step if you want to scale your business and focus on what you’re good at. Remember: one person can only do so much.


If you feel you need help to take the next steps, the Firebird Partnership can get you started. We offer bespoke guidance and mentoring for owners, whatever their goals and ambitions. Highly efficient, results-driven, responsive: if you need us on your team, we will be there.

Matt Purser is a Director of the Firebird Partnership, and has worked in travel since 1989, beginning with ATOL at the Civil Aviation Authority. There he was instrumental in scoping out regulatory changes to protect consumers. In 2005, he set up the Travel Trade Consultancy (TTC) and helped grow it from a start-up to a million-pound-turnover business. Matt is an expert for the Finance & MI and Regulatory modules of Firebird’s Foundations for Growth programme.

Learn all about the programme, and get in touch with Firebird, at

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