How stress affects small business leaders

Date: 17 October 2018

How stress affects small business leaders

A new poll of small business owners has found that female leaders are more resilient than their male counterparts when it comes to handling stress.

The survey of 1,000 SME leaders, conducted by Paymentsense, has revealed that 45% of male respondents said their clear thinking was affected by stress at least five times a day, compared to just 17% of females.

When asked if they encounter a stressful event at least once a day, 64% of female respondents agreed, compared to 75% of male respondents. Only 7% of male respondents said that stress never distracted them, compared with 11% of women.

Overall, almost one in four business leaders in the study said they are seriously distracted by stress at least five times a day.

The study found that the causes of stress vary by gender. Almost a quarter (23%) of female respondents listed customer complaints, compared with just 14% of males. Worrying about business finances was cited by 22% of female SME leaders, but only 14% of males.

There were also differences in the way that men and women responded to potentially stressful situations outside work. For example, only 8% of male respondents listed childcare problems as a stress trigger compared with 15% of females. And worries about health affected 16% of women, but just 10% of men.

Jacqui Macdonald, mindfulness expert and mentor to entrepreneurs, said: "My advice to both male and female business leaders who feel frequently distracted by daily stresses is to acknowledge that it's impairing your ability to lead, and that you need support. You can't go it alone, and you can certainly learn to improve your focus and resilience."

Macdonald said that women are more likely to take steps to manage stress than men. "This study certainly chimes with my own experiences of coaching business leaders," she said. "Three-quarters of my clients are female, suggesting that women could be more open to stress management techniques such as mindfulness."

Guy Moreve, cmo at Paymentsense, said: "Those at the top of the UK's small businesses need real resilience to remain focused and resist unexpected distractions. Our research underscores the daily emotional burden of running a business, and the importance of having a plan to deal with it. While many SME leaders work hard to protect their employees' wellbeing, they shouldn't overlook their own."

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