Could mindfulness help? SME financial mistakes and money management advice.

As a business owner, managing your finances may seem tedious, repetitive and scary at times, especially if your business is your primary source of income. Although some stress is a good thing, too much stress can be extremely counter-productive for you and your business.

According to a recent survey we carried out, which was focused around small business owners and their emotional wellbeing. 50% of SME owners are more stressed now than in previous jobs and 57% of female business owners are mostly worried about their finances. This confirms that money management has become one of the main reasons why business owners are feeling stressed-out and probably why money mistakes are made.

With Mental Health Awareness Week just around the corner, we spoke with a selection of business owners to find out their biggest financial mistakes and discover their insightful money management tips. We know that dealing with finances is a big reason why business owners are feeling stressed out. That's why we spoke with Consultant in Behavioural Change, Natalie Horne, to discover simple mindful exercises which can be implemented into the working day.

Business Owners’ Financial Confessions

Adan Watson
‘‘Not aligning my business cash flow and stock.’’ Adam Watson, Director of Hollywood Mirrors.

’My biggest money mistake was not knowing how to manage cash flow when starting out. Our products take 4 months to produce and customers must place a minimum order of 400 mirrors at a time. This ties up a considerable amount of money. Plus, as our first lot of mirrors sold so quickly it left us with no stock to sell.

The biggest mistake we made was not accounting for the time it takes the goods to arrive to us. This left us wondering how we were going to pay outstanding bills when we run out of stock and had nothing to sell.

Cash flow can be a juggling act when starting out and unexpected costs can rise so it’s best to have a detailed budget before starting out, plus, 10% for emergencies only.’’

Alexander Winston
‘‘Buying unnecessary items for the office’’ Alexander Winston, Managing Director of PPC Protect.

‘‘Being a business owner, I'd have to admit that there are a few things I've spent money on which ended up being a mistake. From software and services to unusable office items, looking back there are a few things I wish I never bought.

Our office is a relaxed environment and we like to offer employees lots of perks while working for us. To help employees relax during their break we decided to set up a chill-out area with a TV, PS4, and bean bags. As good as an idea it sounded, in the end, hardly anyone uses it so now we just have a big TV and PS4 that nobody uses. Looking back, I would have used the money to buy something that would get more use, like a big drinks machine or candy stall.’’

Ross Cohen
‘‘Creating a product with no distinct customer base will cost you.’’ Ross Cohen, co-founder of BeenVerified.

‘‘I wish I knew how important it is to take time to research and pinpoint your target market. The toughest business lesson I learned was don't spend years developing a product that doesn't have a distinct customer base, as that could be a huge way of losing money. Also, if you do put time aside to research and pinpoint your target market, make sure you budget for it as the hours spent researching will cost you. Time is money!’’

Grianne Kelly
‘‘Not signing a confidentiality agreement and losing money protecting our brand.’’ Grainne Kelly, founder of the award-winning BubbleBum inflatable car booster seat.

‘‘The biggest mistake I ever made was expecting that others would have the same degree of integrity as I do. I visited a Chinese factory with my original design and did not ask them to sign the confidentiality agreement before sharing my design. While I was sitting in their office, the Managing Director drove to Shanghai, 3 hrs away, and applied for a utility patent. Although creating a confidentiality agreement would have cost a small amount of money, we’ve had a huge financial hit protecting our brand from not creating one in the first place. Now, I don’t talk to anyone about anything without first signing a confidentiality agreement.’’

Top 10 Expert Tips to Manage Your Business Finances Better

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TOP 10

Expert Tips to Manage Your Business Finances Better


Always have at least 6 months worth of saleries in the business savings account

Lightbulb 2

Coworking and renting desk space can save money for a new business


Take on employees who can multi-task


Social media tactics are a cost-efficient way to market your products online

Bag of Cash 5

Look for ways to save £100 a month


Don't undersell your products and services, even at the beginning

Gold Coins 7

Participate in competitions with cash prizes

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Limit hiring and ensure all staff members limit their time well


Use Bartering websites for services like IT

Book 10

Don't cut corners, make sure you do everything by the book

Thank you to our experts:

Nick Swan - Founder of Ltd, Charlie Spokes - Founder of MyFriendCharlie, The Financial Teem at 'The Jacket Maker' and David Bakke - Business Expert at Money Crashers.

Natalie Horne

3 Simple Mindful Exercises to Combat Stress

By Natalie Horne

We spoke with Natalie Horne, Consultant in Behaviour Change & Mindful Business at Prime Decision.

She provided 3 simple mindful exercises for business owners to do daily, to remain relaxed whilst at work.

Morning Routine

In the morning, before you check your email or do anything, stop and ask: What matters most today?

Choose a single achievable action. It can be small, but something you are determined to accomplish no matter what else happens that day.

Write it on a whiteboard with a big check-box to tick, or put it in the calendar for colleagues.

Then do it – immediately.

Keep Your Cool During the day

Get still. Get quiet. Notice the impact of the situation on your body and mind. What are you feeling? Is your belly tight? Are you tired? Sad? Scared? Ashamed you let it get this bad?

Close your eyes. Feel your feet on the ground and the chair supporting your body. Breathe. Notice your heart beating. Notice your belly. Notice that life is happening… that there are clouds moving across the sky and people walking down the pavement.

Notice that you are not your business.

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Audio Journal Throughout the Day

Use your phone to record yourself speaking freely for 5-10 minutes – for your ears only.

Simply talk about how you are and what’s happening for you. Include your inner emotions as well as your external situation. The clarity this brings can be powerful. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!