Three quarters of SME owners are struggling with mental health

Three quarters of SME owners are struggling with mental health

With time and money pressures sky high and nearly three quarters of SME business owners working during weekends and holidays, it's no wonder their mental health is suffering

Three quarters of SME owners are struggling with mental health

Owners of small to medium-sized companies are struggling with their mental health according to new research.

Haines Watts chartered accountants have found that 73 percent of business owners have never taken more than a week of holiday.

The survey of 500 SMEs in the UK discovered that 73 percent of respondents felt that being a business owner was having a negative impact on their mental health, yet only four percent of this group have sought medical help for this.

The reasons for this can vary, though Haines Watts points to the possible taboo around the subject as well as 47 percent feeling like no one, even a specialist, could ever understand the level of pressure they are under.

This pressure likely comes from the role itself but also from the desire to provide for a family.

Three quarters of these respondents have a family who are solely reliant on income from the business, putting these business owners under overwhelming pressure to stay in the role and keep working hard.

Nearly half, 44%, said they would really struggle to step back from responsibility and reduce their incomes because of their family commitments.

These conflicting pressures of professional demands and family needs force many SME owners to live a kind of double life, constantly having to prioritise home and work demands and ensuring they always get the balance right. With it being so easy to work remotely, it is all too easy to blur the two and never fully switch off.

Karen McLellan, managing director at Haines Watts Hereford, said: “For many, personal success and business success are deeply intertwined, but they also conflict. It’s imperative that business owners’ long-term plans for the business include future business investment, and leave a buffer between business income and family financial commitments to help mitigate the stress of ups and downs.

Many of those affected don’t really know what to do about the problem, with a third feeling like there’s no one they can talk to about it.

The two key sources of pressure on SME business owners appear to be time and money.

Business owners need time to think strategically and plan for the future of their business. The only problem is, this isn’t factored into their everyday roles.

Three quarters of these respondents have a family who are solely reliant on income from the business, putting these business owners under overwhelming pressure to stay in the role and keep working hard.

The day-to-day management of a business is so demanding, with people and problems constantly asking for attention, that business owners usually end up pushing strategic work into their own free time.

Two thirds, 69 percent of business owners say they work at the weekend and 67 percent will work while they are on holiday. Only five percent of people that head up companies are able to fit their jobs into less than 40 hours a week.

What with being forced to work so many hours and give up leisure and social time, it’s not a surprise that so many business owners develop mental health problems.

Financial pressures are also a huge reason for poor mental health among business owners.

In total, a third of business owners have avoided putting financial investments into their business because they feel the need to draw a personal income instead.

As mentioned, for most SME owners the business is the only source of income for the whole family, as three quarters say their partner either works in the business as well or does not have another income.

McLellan added: “The key is to not let pressures bubble over into serious stress or mental health issues by seeking support early.

“Most business owners already feel motivated and are willing to make certain sacrifices to achieve their business aspirations. Given this, a solid support network and an environment that encourages open and honest conversations could be all that’s needed to ensure pressures and strains don’t become anything more serious.”

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