The new year is here and far from being well into the good recovery times predicted not so long ago, we are hit by headlines of the global economy running on one engine, the oil industry in decline, huge hype over the dangers of depreciation, and the FTSE already having the shakes over the forthcoming election.
Many of us can barely remember the good years. Small businesses shrank last year from 5.2m to 4.9m. While the big companies hit the headlines, it is usually forgotten that these small businesses account for over 99 per cent of the private sector business in the UK and nearly 50 per cent of private sector employment. Not exactly good news then. And far from it being all over, 15 per cent of these have laid off staff in the past three months.
Being long in the tooth, I remember only too well the end of the last recession seeing the collapse of many more businesses at the end of it than at the start. The obvious reason for this is the financial, firms have simply run out of time and money to see things through. Over 12 per cent have been seriously considering if they have had enough according to a new survey by Zurich Insurance. Moderately up beat in a December report, the organisation spoke of the general optimism of young business owners.
But then these younger business owners may not have fought through the last few years. They may not already be exhausted both personally and financially.
The pressures on business owners have mounted and mounted over these years. Increased health and safety measures and even more constantly changing HR laws from the not so beloved Brussels, consistently negative headlines and the day-to-day grind of running a business on often skeleton staff to attempt to cut costs – all these things have taken their toll. As protection steps up for the staff, so it has stepped down for the business owner.
Read more from Jan Cavelle:
- Make time to rest and recuperate as a business owner
- Shame on you Heseltine, you’re failing the British workforce
- There are more troubled than trouble-free manufacturers
We learn how to manage stress in the work place; we learn to support our staff. But nowhere do directors and owners of small business get this support in return. Visiting a doctors surgery last year and asking for a sick certificate as I needed some time off post op, I was told “but don’t you run your own business? I don’t think we give sick certificates to people like you”.
Small wonder that many business owners have lost the spark and the passion that enables them to build businesses. In the past 15 years, management burn out has become common place. Stress, change, pressure, and total loss of job satisfaction is all recognised for employees. However, the people under the most pressure over the last five ears have been small business owners.
I would hazard a guess that a very high proportion of those that have been considering shutting up shop could at a different time negotiate many of the problems that beset them. They are instead more prone to feel it is out of control and beyond them and more importantly they simply do not have the energy anymore, suffering from chronic director fatigue.
Not good news for the future of business.
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