Stress is growing problem for business owners

Date: 25 February 2019

 Mature entrepreneur suffering from neck pain

Regulation, 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%).

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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