SME owners feel isolated from loved ones – due to excessive working hours

Businesswoman working at nightBusinesswoman working at night
Businesswoman working at night | SWNS
The study of more than 500 leader found many can't switch off from their job

Nearly three quarters of SMEs owners feel isolated from their friends and family as a result of the hours they work. A study of 500 SME leaders and decision makers found 59 per cent can ‘never switch off’ from their job.

This has caused 75 per cent to argue with their loved ones because they’ve spent too much time working – with one in 10 grafting for at least 50 hours in a typical week. One of the main drivers to starting their own business venture was so they could set their own working hours, however, 44 per cent admit they now work more than they should.

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Steve Hackley, managing director for Sky Business, which commissioned the research, said: "It can be hard work being your own boss. There’s always a temptation to just do one more thing - and these long working hours can very easily lead to burnout.

“Almost everyone feels stress about their work, and we understand that this is exacerbated when your entire business performance is potentially on the line. But our results show SME owners are still satisfied with their decision to set up on their own, even if they end up working more than they’d like.

“And the resilience of this group remains impressively strong.”

The research found in the early days of their business, 84 per cent worked or are working overly long hours, in the hope that in future they will be able to work less. And despite knowing their work is taking over their lives – or perhaps because of it – 53 per cent of SME owners and decision makers describe it as stressful.

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Addressing UK business challenges

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) also admitted to losing sleep at least sometimes as a result of stress from work. Work worries are most likely to hit in bed at night (27 per cent), just before work begins (24 per cent) or when getting ready to go to sleep (24 per cent).

Another 23 per cent of those who stress about work feel it from the moment they wake up, according to the research. But no matter how difficult work gets, 74 per cent say they could never work for someone else – and 61 per cent of SME owners and decision makers think their business will be in a better place in 12 months. 

When asked what would ensure the smooth operation of their business in the coming year, a reliable internet connection was cited by 59 per cent of respondents. Steve Hackley of Sky Business added: “We conducted this research in order to better understand the challenges businesses in the UK are facing. 

“We always want to know what businesses need, so we can continue to tailor our products and services to suit them – knowing the mindset of the marketplace allows us to be better providers."

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