1.8 million SME owners have had a health scare since starting their business

Running a small business can be detrimental to your physical health

A third (30%) of small business owners in the UK have had a health scare since starting their business – this amounts to a staggering 1.8 million SMEs, according to our research, which explores the pressure British SMEs are under in the UK. Further findings include:

• Almost three quarters (72%) of business owners and managers worry that their current work/life balance is having a negative impact on their health.
• 30% have found it hard to go to the gym and maintain their health regime and a further 1/3 have found it hard to eat healthily since starting a business.
• 70% worry about the future and their health due to their work habits.

Steve Noble, ‎Chief Operating Officer at Ultimate Finance commented:

“While it's common knowledge that running your own business is stressful, we were shocked it has triggered health scares in so many entrepreneurs.  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.

When you consider that over five million businesses are SMEs, we could be heading towards a bit of a crisis. We need to 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 added:

“Many SME owners focus on the needs of the business and their employees but fail to address their own personal needs. At the start of a new year, I would urge the UK’s SME community 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 them difficult questions about their work/life balance or simply by taking a more honest look at the way they work and creating boundaries and new habits of eating well and exercising.”

Our independent survey was carried out by 3Gem. It questioned hundreds of managing directors, across a range of sectors, about the impact that running their business was having on their lives.

We conducted the research as part of a bigger SME wellbeing campaign, with the aim of highlighting the need for small business owners to consider their own health, as well as their employees. To help SMEs who need support with their wellbeing, we have created an information hub with insight and guidance on a range of business wellbeing topics.

Visit the Health Hub

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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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