We've uncovered worrying data that shows nearly all small business owners (96%) admit to keeping the stress of running a business ‘bottled up’.

Following 18 months of business uncertainty due to the pandemic, the survey we commissioned looks at the mental health of small business owners.

The data shows the alarming pressures faced by UK business owners as nearly two thirds (63%) admit to deprioritising their mental health in the name of financial success.

The overwhelming demands of running a business are prevalent among the 500 surveyed small business owners, with 16% taking personal loans and nearly a quarter (22%) sacrificing friendships, in order to keep their business running.

The biggest business setbacks for SMEs were identified as competition, financial issues and hiring the wrong people. 79% of small business owners find running a business stressful and almost 1 in 5 (19%) feel like giving up running their business every day.

Stifling stress

Despite the pressures that small business owners face, almost three quarters (71%) agreed they often pretend to family, friends and work colleagues that everything is okay.

More than two thirds (68%) feel like they have nobody to talk to about their problems, 43% of whom claimed it was because no one understands the pressures of running a business, while a further 35% don’t want to burden others with their problems.

Kris Ambler, our Workforce Lead, said:

"We know how testing the last 18 months have been, especially for small business owners who have had to adjust to new business challenges. The fact so many business owners have deprioritised their own mental wellbeing in favour of financial matters and business success is alarming.

“It’s important to seek mental health support to prevent business challenges from being overwhelming. This survey highlights the importance of seeking qualified counselling support for small business owners. It may just impact your bottom line.”

Our member Michelle Seabrook added:

“Whilst the survey results may appear shocking, they are not entirely unexpected. Running a business can be very stressful. I would encourage SME owners to form a 'well-being plan', akin to a business plan. Focusing on what your wellbeing intentions are for the business; how will you support your own and your employee’s mental health? It is unsurprising that business owners prioritise financial success, rather than their wellbeing. It is important to remember that without the owner and the employees, there is no business! A healthy business is not just about having a healthy balance sheet.

"Getting therapeutic support for stress does not mean waiting until crisis point. Those that have a strategic, proactive approach to managing stress find it easier to intervene early, which means that signs of impaired well-being are recognised before they become problematic. This is where accessing independent, qualified therapeutic help can be the game-changer. By investing in support for your mental health, you are investing in the future of your business.”

Finding the right support 

Asking small business owners, almost a third (30%) would advise other individuals starting up their own business to look after themselves and their wellbeing. Currently, more than half (56%) of SME owners feel like they need help with their mental health but don’t know where to start.

Three quarters (75%) of business owners agree that more support from mental health professionals should be available to SME owners to help with the struggles of setting up a business.

The mounting pressures and stresses that contribute to business owners sacrificing their mental health need to be addressed.

We're encouraging SME owners to stop bottling up their worries and seek qualified help from a therapist.