Older people exercising
Most SME owners are turning to exercise to improve their mental wellbeing

Small business insurer Simply Business has launched a new wellbeing hub after a survey it conducted revealed that four in five SME owners have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Featuring free tailored resources and wellbeing tips to the self-employed from a range of experts, the Better for Business hub was set up after its survey highlighted the alarming challenges being faced by the self-employed.

The firm, which insures over 750,000 small business owners, conducted a survey of 765 small business owners from across the UK from December to January 2020.

The findings revealed that a fifth of SME owners describe their current mental wellbeing as ‘bad’. Almost half are worried about their mental health.

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They also revealed that 30 per cent have experienced depression in the last 12 months, 62 per cent have been affected by stress, over half have suffered anxiety, and a further 51 per cent have had problems with sleep. In total, a worrying 82 per cent of self-employed people have suffered with poor mental health in the last 12 months.

Additionally, over a quarter of SME owners have felt low self-esteem in the past 12 months and a fifth have experienced loneliness. The vast majority said that any symptoms of poor mental health have either been caused by or made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Small businesses have been among the hardest hit economically from Covid-19, with the pandemic causing severe disruption to business operations and therefore income.

A third of SME owners have had to temporarily close their business at various points of the pandemic and 44 per cent are operating at a reduced capacity. Just one fifth have been able to continue operating as usual.

But the study showed that running a small business during the pandemic has had a huge impact on small business owners’ mental health.

Over a third struggle to switch off, with one in five saying that it has affected their confidence and more than two in five saying that it has impacted relationships with family or friends.

28 per cent of SME owners are feeling demotivated to work or restart their business and 18 per cent have fallen out of love with their business or the industry they work in. This trend risks a huge blow to the UK’s 5.8 million small businesses which together hold a vast contribution to the country’s economy.

Financial worries are having the biggest negative impact on SME owners with 61 per cent saying it has negatively affected their mental wellbeing in the past 12 months.

This was closely followed by not being able to see family or friends (60 per cent), uncertainty surrounding their business (44 per cent), and stress (48 per cent).

Almost one third of SME owners cited isolation or loneliness as negatively impacting their mental wellbeing over the last year and almost a quarter said a lack of physical exercise has harmed their mental health.

The survey also revealed that some worries remain as SME owners look ahead. Almost half are concerned about the future of their business, while over one in five worry about their business permanently closing this year.

47 per cent of SME owners are concerned about their own mental wellbeing in 2021 – with the almost-year-long Covid-19 pandemic beginning to take its toll after such a sustained period of difficulty.

But despite these challenges, SME owners also have an encouraging level of optimism when thinking about the year ahead. Two in five are optimistic about the economy picking up and well over a third feel hopeful about the future of their business, and jobs and orders picking back up (35 per cent).

A third are feeling positive about their business’ ability to adapt to these new conditions and a fifth are looking forward to learning new skills.

The survey found that SME owners are taking steps to improve their wellbeing this year. Two in three are spending more time outside and in nature where possible, while a further 64 per cent plan to exercise more and dedicate more time to connecting with friends and family (also 64 per cent). A third will use reading as a tool to improve their wellbeing.

Other methods SME owners are looking to include are gardening (27 per cent), mindfulness and meditation (25 per cent) as well as exploring arts and crafts (21 per cent).

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, said: “Few have been hit harder by the effects of the pandemic than the self-employed. Livelihoods are on the line as a result of Covid-19, with small business owners facing an unprecedented amount of pressure. Clearly this is having a huge impact on their wellbeing – the scale of which can be seen in our latest customer survey.

“This situation should concern us all because small businesses are crucial to our economy and communities – and will be central to our collective recovery.”

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https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Webp.net-resizeimage-18.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Webp.net-resizeimage-18.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorNewsroomReports & ResearchRetailer NewsSector NewsTrade NewsBusiness,insurance,mental,online hub,SME owners,survey,WellbeingSmall business insurer Simply Business has launched a new wellbeing hub after a survey it conducted revealed that four in five SME owners have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Featuring free tailored resources and wellbeing tips to the self-employed from a range of experts, the Better for Business...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals