Business owners need more support, study suggests

New research suggests that business owners and decision-makers need more support, as the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business are leaving many feeling ‘burnt out’.

According to a study carried out by Direct Line for Business, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to keep on top of their workloads – and bosses are having to work long hours in order to ensure that their business is running smoothly, and that they are on top of their tax and compliance responsibilities.

The research found that as many as one in eight (16 per cent) of SME decision-makers had not taken any time off in the past year.

This figure rose to 18 per cent among micro-businesses with 10 or fewer employees – and crept up to a third (33 per cent) among even smaller sole traders.

Business Insider magazine points out that, if taken as representative of all UK SMEs, Direct Line’s research suggests that almost 1.5 million business owners have not been able to take time off over the past 12 months.

The research also found that many SME bosses were ‘living in fear’ of the perceived detrimental impact that taking a holiday or short break might have on their business.

More than a quarter of SME decision-makers quizzed said that they were worried their firm would ‘lose income’ if they took a break.

Meanwhile, 22 per cent said that they found it difficult to ‘switch off’ if ever they took the occasional day or two off.

However, Matt Boatwright, of Direct Line for Business, said that business owners’ fears in this area were largely unjustified.

“Our research shows that there are millions of business owners who feel that they cannot leave their business to go on annual leave, but they should be reassured that of all the businesses surveyed, only a small percentage actually experience any business-critical issues while away,” he said.

Nevertheless, the study’s findings still indicate that many SME bosses are under immense pressure – and could use a helping hand.

“Ultimately, nothing is more important than the health of a business owner, so taking a holiday not only allows them to take some much-needed time off to relax but also prevents burnout and subsequent business issues further down the line,” Mr Boatwright said.