Small Business Owners Lose Sleep


More than three in four small business owners (76%) say business worries keep them awake at night. Whilst sleepless nights are most prevalent among owners of businesses that in serious decline (96%), the new research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance found that even those predicting growth for their business admit they seldom get a good night’s sleep (84%).

The Business Barometer findings come at a time when concerns have risen over the mental health of small business owners across the UK, with reports of anxiety and depression rising at the end of last year.

Hitachi Capital’s study reveals that it’s not just businesses that are already struggling that have nightmares, fast growing ones are just as likely to be taking their business worries to bed with them (84%) – they just have different nightmares. For small companies predicting growth over the spring and summer months, red tape (40%), compliance (28%) and dealing with skills gaps in a growing workforce (20%) were their top concerns. For those decision makers expecting their business to decline, the key worries related to market uncertainty (44%) and how to retain business (26%).

The Business Barometer survey – which has now run for five years – asked 1,177 small decision makers to share some of the issues that they were currently worrying about and kept them awake at night.

The biggest worriers

London emerged as potentially the worst place to run a small business in terms of sleepless nights, with almost nine in ten business leaders in the city (87%) saying business worries kept them awake at night. Those in London were most likely to start the working day with bags under their eyes in the country – with night-time business worries in the capital rising by 14% since the start of 2018.

Retail was the sector most likely to give business owners nightmares. More than four in five small business owners (87%) within the retail sector admitted to being kept awake at night by business concerns – rising from 75% a year ago.  Others sectors where entrepreneurs were more likely to experience sleepless nights included transport (78%, up from 69% at the start of 2018), real estate (80%), and education (76%).

Resting easier

The Business Barometer also indicates not all owners have been letting their business concerns come to bed with them. Entrepreneurs in Yorkshire reported getting a better night’s sleep over the course of the 12 months (31%, Q1 2019 vs. 25%, Q1 2018).


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BDC 317 : Jun 2024