SME owners
© Ronnie Wu |

According to a recent survey by Airtasker, it’s been revealed over a third of SME owners admit they are working more than 50 hours a week

According to a recent survey, 38.5% of respondents are either self-employed, running their own business or have owned a business before. With the gig economy supplying the foundations for SME’s to launch, giving them the perfect opportunity to dip their toes in to the ‘dream job’, small businesses are increasingly becoming a thriving industry in the UK.

Comparing SMEs to their biggest competitors, 73% of Brits are now choosing to take their business to an SME rather than a large corporation, with 36% of people willing to spend more on the products or services from local small businesses.

The sacrifices

Although the industry is seeing a healthy growth, ‘making it on your own’ does come with its’ challenges. Chasing after your dream can be rewarding but one interesting find to surface when talking to SME owners was how it can affect their work-life balance. With time becoming an increasingly valuable commodity; business owners seem to have it rough with over a third working more than 50 hours a week (compared to the national average of 40 hours per week).

Compared to employees who enjoy at least 28 paid leave days a year (5.6 weeks), for a small business owner, maintaining a healthy balance can be challenging:

  • 16% SME owners have taken no annual leave!
  • SME owners in East Midlands/East of England take the least leave with 29% taking none!
  • Only 5% of Londoners go without annual leave!

The survey has also shone some light on how the difference between sexes can go beyond the gender pay gap. Not only do female business owners take less leave (81%) compared to men (85%) but work is more likely to interfere with personal life for women, with 24% affected every day compared to 21% for men.

The ‘Key’ to success

You might ask, what strategies are small businesses employing that are driving above some of their competitors. Well this may partly come down to what they value most when hiring. It seems for SMEs looking to hire in the UK, personality trumps skills and experience.

This is how all traits considered were ranked:

  1. Personality
  2. Skills
  3. Experience
  4. Punctuality
  5. Higher education
  6. Great references
  7. Appearance

The challenges

According to a majority 36% of UK small business owners, finding suitably skilled workers is the greatest challenge to running a business. When it comes to other challenges, Londoners are significantly more concerned about Brexit than the rest of the UK at 29%.

Other challenges highlighted were:

  • Finding and paying for suitable premises – 32%
  • Sorting out insurance/healthcare – 26%
  • Brexit – 18%
  • Staying motivated – 28%
  • Company admin and law – 31%
  • Marketing – 23%

For those of us who are thinking about taking the plunge into their dream job, might find themselves relating to the following reasons highlighted in a survey by Airtasker. Discussing what area people were most unsure about when starting a business, the top doubt(23%) was company law, whereas 16% said marketing, 15% said sales, 23% said finance, 7% said management, 23% said company law, 5% said insurance/healthcare, 5% said hiring/training and 7% said networking.

Overall, looking past the hardships that one can come across when setting out on a mission to become their own boss, starting your own business remains to be a more and more attractive and rewarding venture. Hiring freelance, recruiting well rather than quickly and making time for yourself are just a few of the basic steps SMEs can take from these results and set out towards a successful business.


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