Business owners’ health struggles

Northumberland Gazette latest
Northumberland Gazette latest

Three quarters of SME owners in the North East struggle with their mental health.

According to research from chartered accountancy firm Haines Watts, conflicting pressures from their business needs and family lifestyles force SME owners to live a double life, separating business stresses from family and personal wellbeing.

The research, conducted among 500 UK SMEs, shows 86% of business owners in the North East have never taken more than a week off, 81% have a family that is reliant on the income from the business and 49% say they would struggle to reduce the income they draw due to their family financial commitments.

Facing pressure from both sides, 51% feel that no-one understands the pressure they’re under and 31% feel that there’s no-one they can talk to about it.

Two thirds (69%) of business owners in the North East report working at the weekend and 58% report working while on holiday.

A quarter (24%) have put off financial investments because of the need to draw a personal income. Half (49%) say that it would be difficult to reduce the income they draw from the business due to their financial commitments.

Donna Bulmer, regional managing partner at Haines Watts, said: “For many, personal success and business success are deeply intertwined, but they also conflict. It’s imperative that business owners’ long-term plans for the business include future business investment and leave a buffer between business income and family financial commitments to help mitigate the stress of ups and downs.

“The key is to not let pressures bubble over into serious stress or mental health issues by seeking support early. At present, only 4% of those surveyed had deemed their struggles severe enough to seek the help of a mental health professional, but that number will grow if owners don’t recognise and respond to early symptoms of stress.

“Most business owners already feel motivated and are willing to make certain sacrifices to achieve their business aspirations. Given this, a solid support network and an environment that encourages open and honest conversations could be all that’s needed to ensure pressures and strains don’t become anything more serious.”