Business owners put work ahead of well being, study reveals

NEARLY two thirds of SME business owners admit to "deprioritising" their mental health in favour of financial success, according to research.

A study of 500 small business owners found 63 per cent have overlooked their personal well being due to the pressures of running a business.

More than one in five (22 per cent) have sacrificed friendships in order to set up their company while 16 per cent have taken out personal loans.

Others have been forced to dip into their savings, skipped doctor’s appointments and worked in bed at night – all to make ends meet.

While one in five business owners have also missed key milestones like their child’s first steps, sports days and parents’ evenings.

But nearly all respondents (96 per cent) said they keep the stress of running a business bottled up with a further 68 per cent feeling like they have nobody to talk to about their problems. 

Kris Ambler, Workforce Lead from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), which commissioned the research, said: "We know how testing the last 18 months have been, especially for small business owners who have had to adjust to new business challenges.

“The fact so many business owners have deprioritised their own mental wellbeing in favour of financial matters and business success is alarming.

“It’s important to seek mental health support to prevent business challenges from being overwhelming.

“This survey highlights the importance of seeking qualified counselling support for small business owners. It may just impact your bottom line.”

The study found keeping customers and clients happy, cashflow and balancing all the different duties were among the main struggles of running a business.

Of those that felt like they had nobody to talk to, 43 per cent claimed it was because no one understands the pressures of running a business, while a further 35 per cent don’t want to burden others with their problems.

Almost three quarters (71 per cent) agreed they often pretend to family, friends and even work colleagues that everything is okay.

Over a quarter said that competition has been their biggest set-back as a business owner and 19 per cent saying they often feel like giving up running their business on a daily basis.

Following this, more than half of those who took part in the OnePoll survey feel like they need help with their mental health, but don’t know where to start (57 per cent).

Michelle Seabrook, BACP accredited counsellor, added: “While the survey results may appear shocking, they are not entirely unexpected.

“Running a business can be very stressful. I would encourage SME owners to form a 'wellbeing plan', akin to a business plan.

“Focusing on what your wellbeing intentions are for the business; how will you support your own and your employees' mental health?

“It is unsurprising that business owners prioritise financial success, rather than their well-being. It is important to remember that without the owner and the employees, there is no business.

“Getting therapeutic support for stress does not mean waiting until crisis point.

"Those that have a strategic, proactive approach to managing stress find it easier to intervene early, which means that signs of impaired well-being are recognised before they become problematic.

“This is where accessing independent, qualified therapeutic help can be the game-changer. By investing in support for your mental health, you are investing in the future of your business.”

For more information on BACP’s resources for small business owners and how to find a therapist, visit www.bacp.co.uk/smallbusiness

Top 25 sacrifices business owners have made to try and keep their business running

1.           Worked weekends

2.           Gone to work when feeling unwell

3.           Worked evenings

4.           Dipped into personal savings

5.           Sacrificed time on holidays to tend to emails

6.           Missed regular dinnertimes with the family

7.           Worked while in bed

8.           Gone without pay

9.           Cancelling plans at short notice

10.         Ruined holidays by worrying / talking about work constantly

11.         Missed family parties / events

12.         Not taking holidays abroad in case you need to get back to work quickly

13.         Never taking annual leave

14.         Friendships

15.         Gone to work even though one of the children is unwell

16.         Missed dentist’s appointments

17.         Missed child’s sports days

18.         Forgotten wedding anniversaries

19.         Missed child’s key milestones

20.         Taken out personal loans

21.         Mortgage security

22.         Sold personal items

23.         Missed crucial doctor’s appointments

24.         Missed child’s parent’s evenings

25.         Missed date nights

 

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