Stress is growing problem for business owners

25 February 2019


 Mature entrepreneur suffering from neck painRegulation, heavy workloads and economic uncertainty are taking their toll on the UK's small business owners, according to a new study.

A survey of 500 small business owners, conducted by accounting software specialist Xero, has found that 83% have experienced stress in the past six months, with almost half (49%) saying they have been more stressed than normal and 17% admitting they are "highly stressed".

One in ten says the stress of running a business has had a negative impact on their mental health, causing sleepless nights (41%), drinking more alcohol (21%) and arguments at home (13%).

The findings show that the top ten factors causing the most stress for small business owners are:

  • Managing staff (42%);
  • Admin (35%);
  • Feeling responsible for the success of the company (31%);
  • Keeping up with compliance (26%);
  • Paying for overheads and expenses (24%);
  • Keeping clients happy (23%);
  • Imposter syndrome (20%);
  • Filing taxes (19%);
  • Time pressures (17%);
  • Multitasking (14%).

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Outside factors that are also causing stress include high street decline (34%) and Brexit uncertainty (18%). One in ten (11%) said they felt vulnerable to economic conditions.

Despite the high levels of stress, business owners said the best thing about running a business is being their own boss (47%) and being able to improve their work/life balance (47%).

However, 28% of small business owners admit they are too busy to think about supporting mental health and 48% admit they could do more to support mental health in the workplace.

When asked what their business provides to support employee wellbeing, 37% said they allow office pets while 35% offer support with workload management. One in three (33%) gives their staff access to wellbeing apps such as Unmind, Headspace and Calm.

The research by Xero coincides with the launch of Business is Personal, a new book on mental wellbeing in the workplace by Penny Power.

"I learned first-hand that mental health is as critical as physical health," said Power. "Business people focus on their skills and building a network, but very few understand their own vulnerabilities. We all have to deal with challenges and modern living that can be overwhelming but learning to self-care and learning how to manage our minds can be the difference between living a happy and successful life, or not."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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