Telling the truth about SME life today

38% of SME bosses admit to not taking more than a week off for over 3 years

Those are some of the findings from a new piece of research from payment processing company Worldpay, which sought to answer the question: “Is being your own boss all it’s cracked up to be “

Despite finding that the majority of SME owners said they were glad they had lived their dream and went out on their own, it discovered that many were just not ready for the sheer amount of hard work, hours, stress and responsibility it would bring.

Three quarters of SME owners surveyed said running their own business is tougher than they had hoped it would be, with more than a third saying they realised how much they had underestimated it within a month of starting up.

And while many who start their own business are looking forward to being on their own timetable, many work more than 40 hours a week, with almost 40 per cent saying they work six or seven days a week.

Cardiff was the hardest working city with 60 per cent saying they worked six or seven days, with Norwich the second busiest with 55 per cent.

The survey found that entrepreneurs were also failing to take stress-busting holidays.
Over a third of SME owners admitted they hadnt taken more than one week off for over a year, with 18 per cent not having done so for more than three years.

Read more on holidays:

Some 28 per cent said they were the sole member of staff in their business, with 14 per cent declaring they just couldnt rely on their employees to run the business in their absence.

Paperwork, cash flow, marketing and promotion topped the list of some of the aspects of running a business SME owners find more challenging than they expected to. Staffing and resourcing issues and keeping track of new technologies and innovations also ranked highly.

The survey also discovered that one in five believe running small businesses in the UK is getting tougher and a similar number said that they feel as though they are “running to a stand still”.

Those with the most pessimistic outlook were based in Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The most bullish were based in Plymouth and Birmingham.

Tim Campbell MBE, the first winner of The Apprentice and founder of Bright Ideas Trust, said the results highlighted the need for SME owners to use their time wisely.

All too often people thinking about starting their own business focus on the rewards such as making money and being their own boss,” he said. They sometimes overlook how much of an investment of time is required. The Worldpay research highlights the importance of a work life balance over the long-term. Time is precious, especially to SMEs and they need to use it wisely in order to create the life they dream of.


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