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Effective Executive Magazine:
Stress and Self-Care of SMME Owners in South Africa
 
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Leaders are increasingly facing personal challenges in the demanding world of business, and this is true also for entrepreneurs and business owners as they are closer, some may argue, to the vested interests of the economic sustainability of their businesses (as opposed to hired senior managers and leaders in corporate organizations). Small business owners, in particular, feel personally responsible for the success in their roles and when things go wrong. The result sometimes expresses itself in many forms in much of work-life, whether through debilitating health effects such as depression (on the scale from being clinically depressed to just mild versions thereof), anxiety and anxiety attacks, high-blood pressure, mild strokes, low testosterone levels, and many more, to factors affecting work such as low productivity, disengagement, lack of physical and emotional energy, resilience impairment, and many others. Entrepreneurs and small business owners, mostly fueled by their passion and internal need to succeed, are often blind through ignorance or busyness to the need to monitor the negative effects on their own bodies, their psychologies, their need for greater self-care, their ability to lead, and subsequently the impact on those around them.

   
In South Africa, the success of Small-, Medium- and Micro-Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) will play a significant role in the national economy (Ayyagari et al., 2007). SMMEs are usually defined by the number of employees or the turnover of the business, i.e., enterprises with less than 200 staff or an annual turnover of less than R50 mn, the equivalent of $3.8 mn (Bureau for Economic Research, 2016). With weak, existing growth rates (Figure 1), corporates and the “traditional” South African economy are not in a position to address many of the underlying issues being experienced in South Africa—like crime, poverty eradication, health equality, education and unemployment (Bohlmann and Breitenbach, 2016).