UK business owners are the most unhappy

Small business owners in the UK have lowest levels of wellbeing and overall life satisfaction compared with six other countries, including USA and Canada.

Small business owners in the UK are the most unhappy compared with entrepreneurs in six other countries, including Australia, Canada and the USA.

British business owners struggle with significantly lower levels of wellbeing.

Only one third (32 per cent) feel refreshed and rested most of the time, while 26 per cent can rarely, if ever, take a break from their business.

And only 38 per cent report feelings of cheerfulness, with just 36 per cent feeling active and vigorous all or most of the time.

Almost two in five (37 per cent) of UK small business owners report never being able to access affordable counselling or support. This was much higher than any other country in the study.

Bookkeeping platform Xero surveyed nearly 5,000 small business owners in seven countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the UK and the United States – and found that business owners in Britain ranked bottom when it comes to happiness, life satisfaction and wellbeing.

Out of the seven countries surveyed, New Zealand small business owners reported the highest level of life satisfaction, closely followed by South Africa and Singapore.

However, most business owners in the seven countries reported wellbeing below that of their general population, compared to the World Health Organisation’s benchmarking happiness report. Reasons include high inflation, slowing economic growth, concern about staff wellbeing and general uncertainty about the future.

Other themes contributing to business owners feeling unhappy include business-related stress spilling over into private lives, the inability of a small business owner to take time to rest and recover, and lack of access to affordable counselling and peer support.

Only small business owners in South Africa and Singapore reported higher levels of wellbeing than their own general populations.

Alex von Schirmeister, managing director Xero UK, said: “It’s vital that we don’t overlook the wellbeing of small business owners. This study is a stark reminder of the serious impact that ongoing challenges such as late payments have on the wellbeing of small business owners.

“We need more services and a bigger focus on making resources available to help business owners prioritise their own wellbeing and that of their team. This will help create healthier and more resilient businesses that are better equipped to face future challenges.”

Further reading

Four-day work week found to boost revenueA six-month experiment of a four-day work week was found to be successful by nine in ten participating companies, boosting revenue and decreasing staff turnover for many

Dismissing staff on long term sick leaveWhat should you do if you suspect one staff member is malingering? Deliberate work avoidance can affect your whole team’s morale, says Sue Temelty

Late payments do growing damage to business owners’ mental healthLate payments are becoming a greater source of mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression. Find out how to respond to the most common excuses for delayed payments

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...