By Steve Noble, Chief Operating Officer, Ultimate Finance

Does it have to be lonely at the top?

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Ask any small business owner and I’m sure they will tell you that managing the business often means long hours and times of stress. For all the rewards and satisfaction of watching the business grow, there are bound to be moments when it all feels like hard going.

Despite knowing this, I was personally surprised to find out that nearly three-quarters (73%) of SMEs are experiencing feelings of loneliness in the UK. This worrying stat, from our recent research into SME wellbeing, is definitely a cause for concern.

We at Ultimate Finance really want to help the business community do something about this. Because our research also showed that 75% of SMEs also don’t know where to turn when things get tough at the top. Quite simply, running a small business can be a lonely thing.

“There’s always more to do and you often feel like you never quite get there but you’ve got to learn to be kind to yourself.”


As an owner, you may have a small management team and some great employees, but ultimately the responsibility for everything stops with you.

This can be overwhelming and support for SMEs is paramount. And yet, almost two-thirds (60%) of the SME owners we surveyed said that there is not enough support SMEs.

This was echoed by James Shillcock, owner of the highly successful Vivid Drinks company, who said that there should be more support available – and also made the highly relevant point that when a business owner is not performing at their best, this can have a knock-on effect on employees.

In one sense then, this is a productivity issue which is a key concern on a national, economic scale. But more than anything, it is a human issue.

It’s about the wellbeing of people as individuals and providing a forum for discussion and support. That’s why we will be creating our own information hub with guidance from health experts and insights from experienced SME owners to support those in need of help.

Maybe it will always be lonely at the top to a degree. But, SMEs are a hugely valuable part of our society and not just for the jobs they create and the taxes they pay. Many also drive innovation that benefits us all and do great work in their local area.

As members, of the business community ourselves, we think it’s our duty to spread the word about SME wellbeing and help find a solution.

We’re in a very good position to help

For nearly two decades we've been relieving business owners from the day-to-day pressures they’re under. A dedicated team that wants to help, a wider range of products, a simpler online experience and instant decisions… it all adds up to businesses getting the cash they need to grow, quickly and easily.

We back businesses of all sizes, across 300 sectors, with their individual needs; from simple cash loans and hire purchases to specific industry financing.

Every day people come to us for good funding that’s fast, flexible, friendly, fair and full of options – and it does the world of good for British businesses.

Find out more about us

From our research

73% of UK SME owners admit to feeling lonely.

Three quarters don’t know who to turn to when things get tough.

60% don’t believe there is enough support for UK SMEs looking to expand.

Eastern regions of the UK (East England, East Midlands and North East) are the loneliest for SME, with small business owners feeling as much as 20% more isolated than their peers in the west of the country.

Helpful links

The Federation of Small Business’ (FSB) Wellbeing in Small Business Hub.

Mental health charity Mind’s dedicated Workplace hub

A new independent review of mental health and employers by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer, Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers, commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health

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