Are You Living The Business Dream Or Are You Living A Hectic Nightmare?

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Photo Credit: Benjamin Chong via Flickr

 Daphine Bikaba investigates Ibrahim Sanibal’s struggle to ease the work-life imbalance.

It’s easy to manage your work and personal life when you have a steady nine to five job. You clock out, go for evening drinks at the local pub, catch up with friends or watch the latest football match. But when you’re working for yourself it’s often a different story, as you may find yourself dealing with the everyday needs of your business and sometimes there’s no off button. One person this all sounds familiar to is 42 year old fish and chips restaurant owner, landlord and dad, Ibrahim Sanibal.

“I’ve always wanted to work for myself so the inspiration behind the fish and chip restaurant came about when I saw an old abandoned pub on Moor Lane road, Preston. I saw the opportunity to turn it into a fast food place because it was in a perfect location near student accommodation, therefore I thought it would bring in a lot of customers.”

After buying the pub space, Ibrahim went into a partnership with his friend and together they worked towards renovating it into a restaurant.  In the months leading up to the opening of the restaurant, however, Ibrahim soon saw the business taking over every aspect of his life. He was working around the clock, often starting from 9am and working late until 11pm every day.

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Photo Credit: Daphine Bikaba

“I’m a bit of a handyman so I pretty much rebuilt the space into a restaurant myself because I needed to make sure I was in control and everything was exactly as I envisioned it. I was absolutely exhausted in the first few months as I would work 14-16 hours each day and was only able to get a few hours’ sleep when I got home.”

Ibrahim’s commitment to his new business meant that he was taking on more roles than he ever imagined. He was not only responsible for the demands of the restaurant but he was also now a landlord, having expanded the upstairs of the restaurant into a flat.

“It was (and sometimes still is) a nightmare.  Every single minute of the day I was busy attending to the needs of the business, from people applying for job vacancies to students wanting a viewing of the flat upstairs. I barely had a minute to myself and didn’t see my family that much – work was essentially my life at one point.”

Being overworked can have a knock on effect for anyone that runs their own business.  Therapist Anne Millne-Riley identifies stress, exhaustion and depression as the main consequences of a continued work-life imbalance. “The long term impact on the body can also result in serious medical conditions such as coronary damage,” she explained.

Anne, who is also a confidence coach, identifies that such effects are also likely to go further than physical illness. She said: “The impact on family life can be catastrophic, as spouses and children can begin to live their lives without you as you are rarely home”.

Ibrahim is an example of an increasing number of small business owners whose work-life balance can be out of sync. According to a study by insurance provider Simply Business, almost half of the 2,000 individuals surveyed cancel social plans at least once a week and 25 per cent have fallen ill due to stress and overwork.

Anne, however, encourages small business owners to protect their family and leisure pursuits by scheduling them in. She said: “They can begin by just planning short breaks like a coffee with a friend, initially to ensure they are not too far away from their businesses and are able to tackle any issues when they return”.

Today, Ibrahim now also owns the space next to The Queen Vic Fish and Chips, which he extended to include a pizza and burger restaurant. He has as well not only managed to employ a small team of 15 employees across both business, but he’s also expanded to an online delivery service on Just Eat to help ease the lunch rush as well as his work-life balance.

With a bit more time on his hands than before, Ibrahim’s also been able to successfully develop The Queen Vic by opening a new branch in the neighbouring town of Chorley and has future plans of a branch in London as his work-life balance continues to improve.

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