Small business owners happier than they ever were as employees

Despite sacrificing family time, sleep and income, company owners claim they are happier than they when they worked for someone else, research finds.

Despite sacrificing family time, sleep and income, company owners claim they are happier than they when they worked for someone else, research finds.

The study, commissioned by online print retailer instantprint, has revealed what business owners across the UK are worrying about, what makes them happy, and their wellbeing.

Family time is the biggest sacrifice of owning a business (46 per cent), followed by holidays (45 per cent), and income (40 per cent).

One in eight respondents only sleep three to four hours per night, half of what is recommended by the NHS. Those who responded that owning a business made them feel more stressed were the least likely to get the recommended hours of sleep.

Furthermore, more than one in five are potentially risking their health by missing a medical appointment due to work commitments.

When it comes to their biggest worries, a quarter (26 per cent) of business owners are concerned about how government regulations will affect them.

Despite all this, more than half of business owners have gained self confidence since starting their business, with 68 per cent having a good work/life balance, and 70 per cent saying they would never go back to working for someone else.

Although they are more stressed, 71 per cent of SME owners are still happier in their current job.

On average, male SME owners work 45 hours a week compared to their female counterparts who work ten hours less.

Owning a business has affected male respondents’ worse in terms of stress, with almost 60 per cent of men saying they are more stressed compared to 43 per cent of women.

The top reason male business owners give for being worried is their business not succeeding (33 per cent), compared to 57 per cent of women who are most worried about finances.

The top three sacrifices female SME owners have made are lack of income (46 per cent) holidays (41 per cent) and family time (38 per cent), to set up their own business.

Conversely, male SME owners have forfeited family time (52 per cent), holidays (48 per cent) and personal leisure time (44 per cent).

James Kinsella, co-founder of instantprint says, ‘[My co-founder]Adam and I started instantprint whilst studying for our university finals so from the start we were juggling business and other commitments. I always think it’s an emotional rollercoaster, the tough times are tougher than those you would ever face working for someone else but when things are going well it’s a high you can’t compare.

‘What really stood out for me was that despite the challenges, stresses and late nights, the overwhelming majority of small business owners are happier now than when they were when working for someone else.’

Further reading on starting a business

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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