As the aftermath of the pandemic is still being felt by the nation’s business owners, and a number of government support schemes come to an end, new research has uncovered what is keeping SME owners up at night.
The SME Business Owner Mental Health Report by The Accountancy Partnership, found that being unable to provide their product or service as planned was the primary fear for 40% of small business owners. The response comes amidst supply chain issues, current staffing crisis and rising energy bills.
Financial fears have led to sleepless nights for almost a third (30%) of small business owners, as they are concerned about the prospect of being unable to pay their personal rent or mortgage. The biggest worries for a further one in six (16%) revolved around their staff, with the premise of not being able to pay staff (11%), and having to make redundancies (4%) troubling business owners.
Lee Murphy, managing director at The Accountancy Partnership, said: “Running a business of any size comes with pressures that can evolve into stress and other mental wellbeing issues, but as SME owners often rely on their business as a sole source of income and have a close relationship with employees, these worries can be felt more keenly.”
When asked to score the effect of the pandemic on their mental health on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being no impact and 10 being maximum, the majority scored themselves on the highest half of the scale. This resulted in two-thirds (69%) of small business owners - approximately four million people – reporting the pandemic has had a moderate to severe impact on their mental health.
Lee continued: “Many entrepreneurs found their livelihoods threatened with the onset of the pandemic as the world changed overnight, and anxieties would have spread even further for those who have employees. While the statistic revealing that the majority of SME owners’ mental health was at least moderately impacted by the pandemic is concerning, it is not necessarily surprising.”
Despite the prevalence of deteriorating mental wellbeing among entrepreneurs, the research found that just one in 10 (12%) of those who have experienced issues sought professional help. A further quarter (26%) spoke to a family member, friend or colleague, 6% spoke to a business mentor or work organisation and the same percentage used an app or online resource for wellbeing support.
Worryingly, 6% of entrepreneurs do not feel comfortable asking for help when they need it and 2% do not know where to go for help.
Lee said: “It may only seem like a small percentage, but this equates to almost half a million small business owners. It is evident that there needs to be better and more accessible support available to small business owners. Many SME owners work by themselves, so it can be a lonely and high-pressure career choice in some cases.
“We have found that an improvement in mental wellbeing is a huge driver for people to leave employment to start their own venture, and we need to see more entrepreneurs taking care of themselves and their mental wellbeing throughout the process of being a business owner, not just when they choose to become one.”
To read the full SME Business Owner Mental Health report, visit https://www.theaccountancy.co.uk/mental-health.