Small business owners risk their health through over-work

Small business owners are working 13 hours per week more than the UK average and nearly a third believe that running their company is negatively affecting their health, according to a new report.

The study, carried out by market researcher Opinium on behalf of Bizdaq, found that SME owners worked an average of 50 hours per week. This is 13 hours more than the national average of a 37-hour working week.

370,000 small business owners were working more than 60 hours per week and an additional 94,000 were working 80 hours-plus – more than twice the national average.

Long working hours, coupled with the other strains and stresses of running a business, were combining to have a negative effect on the health of many SME owners.

Some 1.3 million small business owners reported that they had suffered health issues due to the pressures of running their businesses, with 660,000 of those saying that running their business had a negative impact on their mental health.

Small business owners may feel under pressure to keep their businesses going, especially if they are struggling in tough economic times. Nobody wants to see their business facing insolvency but over-working can be counter-productive, especially if it leads to time off work through ill health.

The burden of business ownership was most likely to be felt in the North, with twice as many northern small business owners (22%) saying they felt the strain compared to 11% of those in the South.

When it came to regional differences, the East Midlands was the worst affected, with more than a third (34%) saying their health had been negatively impacted. The least affected region was the South East with only 8% of business owners reporting a negative impact on their health.

Family life was also affected by the burdens of business ownership. A large majority (87%) of small business owners with children under 18 said they would not be taking a family holiday this year. Despite this only around a fifth (18%) felt that running their business had a negative impact on their families.

By Phil Smith

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