Small business owners in London and the South East are working long hours, through ill-health, and with few or no holidays, according to new research from Clydesdale Bank. According to the Bank’s estimates, the region’s owners contribute to the 64 million extra working days each year UK-wide to keep their businesses going.
Clydesdale Bank’s new research indicates that more than 2.5 million (57%) small business owners UK-wide haven’t had a single day off sick in the last three years. Compared to the average worker, the research suggests that small business owners between them have worked around 46 million extra days since 2009 (15.3m per year) compared to average UK workers, who take six sick days a year (source: CBI*).
“Small business owners in London and the South East have invested their own money and passion in their company, so they will fight through the coughs and colds that might keep others at home under the duvet,” explains Will Lindsay , Regional Director South at Clydesdale Bank. “When the bottom line is that the success of your business rests on you, there is a massive motivation to keep going when a regular employee might not.”
And those running the region’s small businesses aren’t working shorter hours either. The Bank calculates that around a million owners UK-wide are working more than 45 hours per week, with almost two thirds of those putting in over 50 hours, far more than the UK average working week; 39.1hours (source: ONS). Together, they could be doing more than 1.3 million extra days, each year.
“During a tough period for the economy, where the immediate future has been unclear, taking on or even just keeping staff has been difficult for small businesses,” said Will. “Owners, who often don’t draw much of a salary or pay themselves overtime, are rolling up their sleeves and working extended hours to ensure their customers are looked after, and their businesses survive.”
Worryingly, perhaps, the people who own and run the small businesses in the Capital and across the South East, are not taking holidays and time away from work to recharge their batteries either.
The survey found 13% of respondents in the region had taken no holidays in the last year, while more than a third (39%) took fewer than 15 days. Clydesdale Bank’s research indicates that almost all (87%) small business owners across London and the South East are taking fewer days off than the statutory entitlement of 28 days; the Bank estimates they contribute to the UK small business sector which foregoes almost 49 million days off each year.
Will continued: “With times being tough, you can understand if small business owners don’t want to close for holidays, or spend money on overseas trips, but it is worrying that they don’t seem to take time for themselves.
“Being healthy and on top of your game is an important part of succeeding in business. Investing time in your physical, mental and social well-being can be every bit as valuable as cash is to your business.”
But small business owners do recognise the sacrifices they are making, and the impact that has on themselves and their relationships.
When asked what they would like to change about running their business this year, almost half (49%) of those operating a small business in London and the South East would take more time for themselves, or spend more time with family and friends.
Will remarked, “It is good that the need to spend more time with those closest to them and for themselves is recognised. But knowing how to achieve that is more difficult.
“Talking to advisers and experts, people who can help you work smarter; using tools to reduce some of the administration such as our Small Business Hub; or making tasks simpler, can add real value.
“It could be something as straightforward as banking online, or over the phone that frees up some time to relax, rest and recuperate.”