SME owners in London are at breaking point, new research from Opus Energy reveals. Just under three in four (74%) SME owners in the capital are losing sleep over their business, with company finances and costs (34%), work/life balance (29%) and attracting customers (20%) the main reasons cited for the lack of shut-eye.
The strains of running a business are also putting pressures on the home lives of London’s SME owners, with four in five (79%) making personal sacrifices for the sake of their business over the past 12 months. Two-fifths (38%) say that they have reduced their holidays, a third (35%) have sacrificed personal time and a quarter (27%) have gone without pay. In fact, 29% of SME owners said they worked even when on holiday, with a further 16% saying they don’t take any holidays at all.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that nearly two-fifths (39%) regret starting their business. Explaining some of the reasons why, SME owners cited their business having been detrimental to time spent with family and friends (14%), taking more time and effort than they had thought (12%) and not being as profitable as expected (11%).
Considering that some of the top reasons for starting their own business centred around control, suhc as working for themselves (58%), controlling their future earnings (32%) or controlling their workload / time (27%), it seems that London SME owners’ attempts to gain, or regain, control over their working life is damaging the quality of their personal life.
Nikki Flanders, COO of Opus Energy commented: “Every business leader needs to make a significant investment to make their business successful, and this investment is amplified for small businesses. The time, money or simply emotional investment needed to start a business and make it profitable is often all-consuming. Considering the difficult trading conditions businesses of all sizes have experienced recently, it’s not surprising that London’s SMEs have needed to make particularly hard sacrifices over the past 12 months. However, the fact that small business owners are jeopardising their wellbeing consistently is a worrying sign. We rely on them to drive the economy, so if they’re struggling, we all will.”
To address the worries that keep them awake at night, SME owners are working overtime, with more than a quarter working six or seven days a week (27% and 28% respectively); unsurprising considering the sacrifices they’re making.
Nikki continued: “SMEs are the key to building our economy, we need to help each other through this turbulent time. We know that starting and running a small business requires energy, not only to power the lights and equipment, but energy to work late and go above and beyond. Appreciating that we are a small part in our customers’ lives – supplying energy and services – we want to do the best we can at getting it right. So, last week we opened a pop-up juice bar called the Kinetic Café, to give us the chance to get in touch with the needs of small businesses, and ultimately improve our service and support to ensure we do as much as possible to help them on their journey.”