Is running a business affecting your health?

Written by: Rachel Miller

Date: 14 May 2024

A female entrepreneur is feeling the pressure of running her own business

Almost half of UK small business owners say that running their own business has negatively impacted their health, according to new research conducted by FreeAgent.

The pressure of running a business is taking its toll on entrepreneurs, according to the results of a survey of small business owners from across the UK, conducted by accounting software provider FreeAgent.

Published to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, the survey findings reveal that:

  • Altogether, 48% of UK small business owners say that running their own business has negatively impacted their physical and/or mental health;
  • 20% of respondents say that their mental health has been negatively affected;
  • 7% say their physical health had taken a hit;
  • An additional 20% say that both their mental and physical health has been negatively impacted by running their own business.

Work-life balance for business owners

Despite the fact that two-thirds (67%) of respondents say they are happy with their current work-life balance, a heavy workload is still a key issue for many business owners - 18% say they work 48-64 hours a week. In addition, 77% of those polled report that they have worked through an illness because they felt they could not take any time off.

"Running a small business can be incredibly challenging, and our research shows just how much pressure that working for yourself can have on your mental and physical health. Small business owners regularly spend long hours working on their ventures, rarely take time off when they are sick, and are putting their health at risk by not being able to take proper breaks from their businesses." Roan Lavery, ceo and co-founder of FreeAgent.

The findings also show that six in ten business owners say they have worked while they were on holiday, doing tasks such as checking emails and managing accounts. Only a third (32%) of respondents plan to take a complete break on holiday.

On a positive note, 62% of business owners polled say that they have a good support network to help them navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and 66% say that running a business has had a positive impact on their mental health "at some point".

Roan Lavery, ceo and co-founder of FreeAgent, says more needs to be done by the government to support the UK's 5.5 million small business owners. "Our findings still suggest that more support is needed for Britain's entrepreneurs," he said. "Many are currently facing major challenges from inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, so it is important to help them avoid causing significant damage to their physical and mental well-being.

"Enhancing initiatives to facilitate sick pay and health insurance accessibility, coupled with fostering awareness and education on mental health, is paramount for the welfare of our entrepreneurial community. I hope that politicians from across the spectrum will acknowledge these challenges in the SME sector and commit to help small businesses safeguard their physical and mental health."

Written by Rachel Miller.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.