1/5 SME owners battling depression amid cost-of-living crisis

Following a tumultuous two years of lockdowns, restrictions, and uncertainty, new research has revealed that the challenges facing owners today are proving no less difficult to navigate for small business owners. Amid the cost-of-living crisis, many describe how their mental health has worsened with a fifth (20%) reporting battling depression.

The survey of over 600 small business owners, commissioned by small business insurance provider Simply Business, has revealed the key challenges facing SME owners in 2023. With a fifth (22%) rating their mental health as (18%) ‘bad’ or (4%) ‘very bad’. Over half (51%) reported feeling stressed, two-fifths (39%) have been experiencing anxiety, and over one in five (22%) struggled with insomnia.

Over four in five (81%) small business owners are worried about how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting their business, with two-thirds (65%) seeing rising costs as the biggest challenge to their business heading into 2023. A quarter (26%) are worried they simply won’t be able to pay their bills in 2023.

As a result, 15 per cent have no confidence in their business heading into the New Year with the reality of the cost-of-living crisis also affecting the way that SMEs can prepare for 2023. Three in ten (28%) say they’re unable to plan or budget due to uncertainty, a tenth (10%) have been unable to order stock and three in five (60%) say their profit margins are down.

And with pressure mounting and with the reliance on festive trading, many small business owners were forced to work throughout the holidays. One in three didn’t take any real break in December – with one in 10 (13%) working the whole of the festive period, and 23 per cent needing to check emails, take calls, and process orders throughout. In fact, 15 per cent last took a holiday or break from running their business 3- 5 years ago, while 10 per cent last took one over 5 years ago.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business said, “the self-employed are feeling the pressure of the current economic climate more than most, the effect of which is having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. Our study found that four in five small business owners are worried about the impact the cost-of-living crisis will have on their business, resulting in a fifth of respondents battling depression.

“Small businesses account for 99 per cent of all British businesses, contributing trillions of pounds a year to the economy in turnover. The recovery of our economy and communities is directly linked to their success.”

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