Don’t let running a business damage your health

By our Head of Operations, Steve Noble

Warning: if you’re not careful, running a small business could be bad for your health.

In fact, our latest research found that a third (30%) of small business owners have had a health scare since starting their business. That amounts to a staggering 1.8 million SME owners. We also found out:

  • Almost three quarters (72%) of business owners and managers worry their current work/life balance is having a negative impact on their health.
  • Thirty percent have found it hard to go to the gym and maintain their health regime, while a further third find it hard to maintain a healthy diet.
  • Seventy percent worry about their future health due to their work habits.

This just makes our campaign to raise awareness and provide support even more timely. Our research found that running a small business can be challenging for mental and emotional wellbeing.

Nearly three-quarters of small business owners admit to having felt lonely while running the business, with a third saying they regularly feel that way. Three-quarters of owners also said that they did not know where to turn to for support. Six in ten felt that insufficient support is available.

This is bad enough, but the link to damaging physical health is perhaps even more concerning.

It is not altogether surprising though, given that research from the University of York has already found that people who feel lonely are 30% more likely to suffer from a stroke or heart disease (two of the leading causes of death in Britain).

It can be isolating spearheading a business, particularly in uncertain economic and political times and clearly the strain is taking its toll in terms of personal health and wellbeing. Many SME owners are simply not finding the time to eat well or exercise.

This just makes it all the more imperative that we start talking seriously about the importance of prioritising physical health, not just for the sake of entrepreneurs’ personal health but to ensure the long-term success of their business.

Business psychologist Robert Stewart, who we have teamed up with on this campaign, says that business owners need to take this research seriously and establish their own process for looking after themselves:

“This may be in the form of a personal wellbeing advocate who can ask difficult questions about work/life balance or simply by taking a more honest look at the way you work and creating boundaries and new habits of eating well and exercising.”

As we start the New Year, it’s a great time to reassess your working and personal life habits. Are you taking too much of the strain? Or are there things you can do to give you a better work/life balance?

Make this the year that you focus on your own wellbeing and set your business on the path to a happy and healthy future. 

Further thoughts and tips are available at our dedicated wellbeing page here.

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