By John Lightfoot, Head of Relationship Management and Client Service, Ultimate Finance

Put your own wellbeing on the agenda

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I am relatively new to Ultimate Finance but I’m absolutely delighted that we have launched this wellbeing campaign.

That’s because I used to run my own small business – a consultancy firm offering business advice to SMEs – so I know at first-hand what it’s like.

There were lots of great things about running my own business. I learned a lot of new skills that came from pushing myself outside my comfort zone. There’s the thrill of winning new business and the feeling that you’re really making a difference to your customers. There’s a buzz to raising an invoice and seeing it get paid!

“Even when you’ve got lots of work on, you never know quite what’s coming next. And that can be stressful.”


But there are lots of harder things too. There can be a sense of isolation and everything being on you. There’s no support for admin, compliance or IT. There’s always that worry about the pipeline of work and you end up never really taking a holiday (even when you’re on ‘holiday’ you’re still thinking about work!)

From my time running my own business, and from the SMEs I was advising, I have a number of recommendations.

When I look at most SME owners who struggled with this, I think that often it wasn’t about the product or their market, it was about how they managed themselves emotionally. Things like optimism, self-confidence, the ability to build relationships, empathy – these are all things that you can actually consciously work on improving and which are vital to running a business.

Then there’s the ‘dark side’ – when owners just become obsessed with their business. They become so obsessed that they stop socialising, stop exercising, don’t eat properly, struggle to sleep. That isn’t sustainable in the medium term and leads to deteriorating thought processes and decision making, which can result in business failure.

So I urge SMEs to take this side of things very seriously. If you can, invest in a coach or mentor from outside your ‘bubble’ (ie the business or family) who can listen and challenge and discuss in a dispassionate way. This can be critical to helping you get clarity in your thinking and will also make you feel more supported and understood.

If you don’t have the funds for this, there is a lot of self-help you can do too. For example, ask yourself these two questions at the end of each day, that will focus your mind on the positives, and spend a few minutes writing down the answers:

- What have I done well today?

- What have I done today to move my business towards its goals?

Put your own wellbeing on the agenda – it’s worth it.

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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