So you’ve decided to set up by yourself and go it alone. Congratulations – you’ve joined the large number of people who’ve made the leap and launched a small business or become a freelancer. But once you’ve got through those adrenaline-fuelled first few months, what’s the biggest obstacle you’ll face?

We asked 500 freelancers and small business owners to choose from a list of challenges and were surprised with the results.

Despite the financial constraints faced by small business today, cash flow wasn’t listed as the biggest difficulty. Instead 41% of those surveyed said the biggest problem was staying motivated and maintaining a work-life balance came second.

In total, the top five challenges listed by small businesses and freelancers were:

  1. Staying motivated (41%)
  2. Maintaining a work-life balance (38%)
  3. Cashflow (28%)
  4. Making difficult decisions alone (22%)
  5. Managing people (22%)

On a more light-hearted note, we also asked about their unsung office heroes – the small but vital objects that power their day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the office kettle was listed as the most important office object, suggesting there’s nothing like a cup of tea to keep you motivated during a busy day

Other unsung heroes were very much on a practical side, with notepads, comfortable office chairs, sticky notes and USB sticks rounding out the top five, which were:

  1.  Kettle (41%)
  2. Notepad (30%)
  3. Comfortable office chair (23%)
  4. Sticky notes (23%)
  5. USB stick (18%)

To celebrate those small items that keep you going, we’ve created our Ode To miniseries that celebrate the little things that make a big difference to the individual’s working day.

The kettle takes pride of place in our first film, while our second video focuses on a source of inspiration, creativity and organisation – the simple sticky note.

And if you’re struggling to keep yourself motivated with your business then be sure to watch our motivational videos from Olympic gold medallist and small business owner Ben Hunt-Davis.

Is motivation one of your biggest challenges of being your own boss? What gets you through the day? Leave a comment below or join in the conversation on Twitter @HiscoxUK.