A fifth of small business owners are suffering from depression, according to new data.
A survey of more than 600 small business owners, commissioned by insurance provider Simply Business, revealed that mental health has declined for SME owners over recent years.
The key findings concluded that over half (55%) of small business owners feel stressed, while one-fifth (20%) are suffering from depression.
A further two-fifths (39%) say they are dealing with anxiety and over one in five (22%) have experienced insomnia. In total, 22% of small business owners describe their mental health as “bad”.
A time of uncertainty
The cost of living crisis, along with the turbulent economy, has undoubtedly been the driving force behind the survey’s results, with 81% of small business owners admitting they are worried about what impact the crisis will have on their companies. More than a quarter (26%) are unsure how they will manage to pay their bills this year, with 65% saying the biggest challenge they’re currently facing is rising costs.
These ongoing battles have seen a lack of confidence emerging, with 15% of SME owners saying they are left with zero confidence in their business for the year ahead, with the current uncertainty disabling any attempts at preparation. Three in ten (28%) say they cannot plan or budget properly and a tenth have been unable to order in stock, with more than half (60%) of small business owners reporting dwindling profit margins.
Feeling the pressure
With the pressure building, many small business owners were forced to rely on festive trading, leaving them without their usual Christmas break. One in ten say they didn’t take a break during December, and almost a quarter (23%) did not switch off from calls, emails, and processing orders.
It’s understood that 15% of small business owners have not taken annual leave in three to five years.
Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented:
“The self-employed are feeling the pressure of the current economic climate more than most, the effect of which is having a detrimental impact on their well-being. Small businesses account for 99% of all British businesses, contributing trillions of pounds a year to the economy in turnover. The recovery of our economy and communities is directly linked to their success.”
5 ways for small business owners to manage stress
With so much to think about as a small business owner, it can be easy to neglect your mental well-being, which is not only detrimental to your health but also to your business.
Burnout is evidently an increasing issue for SME owners, and one that leaders need to take time to seriously address.
So if you find that the daily challenges of running your business are taking an emotional toll, here are some simple tips you can implement into your workday to help manage stress and take care of your well-being.
1. Take control of your diary
As a small business owner, it’s easy to let the day run away with you; skipping breaks in favour of back-to-back meetings, getting caught up in unexpected distractions, or working beyond office hours to conquer your workload are often typical habits when running your own company, but they can have a major impact on your productivity and mental well-being.
Creating a day-by-day schedule in your diary is a great way to keep on top of your stress levels and improve your productivity. Dedicate specific hours of your day to completing the high-priority tasks key to your core business, and block out time for any necessary meetings.
Don’t be afraid to turn down any meetings as you see fit, especially on topics you feel could be easily resolved in a 5-minute call or a quick email. You might want to also consider adding a meeting-free day to your workweek, to keep your diary clear for the projects you’re passionate about.
Depending on how you work best, you may find it more manageable to record your workweek in a physical diary, or digitally through your in-built email calendar or a planning app like Clickup.
2. Take regular breaks
Taking a break might sound obvious, but last year a report found that over a third of UK workers are skipping their lunch breaks, with business owners most likely to do so.
Not only this, but as previously mentioned, small business owners are neglecting their holidays, with 15% not having used any annual leave in up to 5 years.
Countless scientific studies have proven that regular breaks not only reduce and prevent stress, but are also vital to maintaining performance throughout the day. A relaxing break can help return mental and physical functions to their baseline, while short breaks throughout the day to socialise with colleagues or grab a coffee can work wonders for igniting creativity.
Schedule your breaks into your diary, and if you’re guilty of skipping them, set a reminder on your phone or desktop to encourage you to get away from your work, even if only for a few minutes.
3. Create the right environment
Does your workspace inspire you?
Sitting at your desk all day can be physically uncomfortable and mentally draining, so it’s crucial to make sure your working environment fosters productivity.
Ensure your space is comfortable and supports creative thinking, with the right equipment and surroundings. This may be as simple as clearing a mess or filing away paperwork from your desk, investing in some greenery, or improving your office ergonomics.
If you’re working from home and have enough room, try to dedicate a space to work that’s separate from the rest of your home and tucked away from daily distractions.
4. Connect with people
Being your own boss can sometimes come with a sense of loneliness. Human connection plays a vital role in our well-being.
Whether it’s making more time to connect with your team through after-work socials or team-building activities, or attending networking events where you can meet like-minded individuals; connecting with people and getting to know them better can be a great way to gain fresh perspectives, and could even lead to new opportunities for you and your business.
5. Embrace a hobby
Last but not least, pursuing a hobby or passion is another excellent way to connect with people and gain clarity.
Too often, business owners forget to make time for themselves and the pastimes they enjoy outside of work.
Simply dedicating one day, or even just an evening a week, to pursue something you’re interested in such as walking, playing a sport, or attending a yoga class, can have a transformational impact on your mental health, and can also be a great way to reignite a creative mindset.
Thanks for reading
We hope you’ve found this article useful, and that it’s given you the reassurance that you’re not alone with your worries or concerns.
What are your tips for managing stress as a small business owner? Leave us a comment below.
Remember, if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to reach out to someone you trust or seek professional advice. There are a range of helpful resources and support available which you can view here or through charities such as Mind.