There is no way to get ahead in the business world without putting in a lot of effort, and for small business owners that usually adds up to a lot more time at the office than a standard 40-hour work week. On the other hand, you are the master of your own ship, so you're free to set whatever hours and standards you want for your business. If you're looking to see the best growth in your financial plan, though, you're going to be working a lot.

Absolutely nothing is wrong with putting in plenty of effort, so long as you're seeing a profit from it. More often than not, owners put in the most hours but get paid the least, as other employees' payroll comes out after utilities and inventory, and owners take whatever is left over. To avoid working for free at your own company, look for tell-tale signs that something is going wrong.

Working hard is hardly working

If you've been straining away for more than a year and making less than you would doing the same amount of effort elsewhere, chances are you're doing something wrong, according to Victor Green, a successful entrepreneur with his own book series on how to succeed at startups.

He told Inc. Magazine that the best way of knowing something is wrong is if, despite all your hard work, you aren't seeing any kind of improvement. After a few months of operation, there should be more foot traffic through the door and more orders for inventory. If that isn't the case, look into social media and other advertising strategies. If you've already done that as well, it's time to look for financial investment advice.

Look for a loan

A lot of businesses these days are barely scraping by because they don't want to take out commercial loans. The money is there and readily available, as lenders become more interested in giving money to even sub-prime lenders, but as CNBC reported, owners are going without paychecks because they don't want to take on the additional liability.

In 2011, about one-fourth of all small business owners answered a Citibank survey saying that they hadn't been able to pay themselves for almost a year. These problems could easily be alleviated with a small business loan, but many owners believe the extra funds would be more of a hinderance than a help. Paying back a loan later after using the money to balance books and fix workforce problems will mean easier repayment and better ability to pay yourself now.

Hit and miss days

Not getting paid can weigh you down, and when you aren't at your best, the company may not run as well, especially if you've been taking everything onto your shoulders. Business 2 Community wrote that another sign that things are wrong at work is when you find your productivity is haphazard – some days you do exemplary, and others you don't do much at all. This lethargy may spread to other employees and aspects of the company, creating a deadly recipe for failure.

If you are passing up business and shying away from opportunities, look into a commercial loan, talk to a financial advisor and see if there are ways to revitalize your company. There are always other options outside of what you're doing now, and if that isn't working already, taking a risk may be your best alternative.