New study reveals top six mental health challenges faced by entrepreneurs ⋆ Business Lancashire

Small business lender, iwoca, has surveyed SME owners across the country to better understand the process of goal setting as a business. The survey has some interesting results, including information on the top six physical and mental challenges faced by entrepreneurs up and down the country.

SME owners face loss of sleep and a lack of work-life balance

It seems that the most common mental challenge faced by entrepreneurs is a loss of sleep, which affected one in six respondents, closely followed by issues with work/life balance.

Mental and physical challenges faced when starting their own business Percentage of respondents who agreed with this statement
Loss of sleep 16%
Non-existent work-life balance 15%
Feeling more stressed 15%
Mental health and well-being affected 14%
Physical health and well-being affected 11%

Setting realistic goals is important for the mental health of entrepreneurs

To understand the importance of realistic goal setting for the mental health of entrepreneurs, iwoca spoke to life coach and therapist, Danny Greaves:

“Setting achievable goals is fundamental to staying motivated and focused on achieving your business dreams. When we set a realistic goal and achieve it, our brain gives us a burst of the feel-good chemical dopamine. On the other hand, when we set an unrealistic goal…we begin to accumulate evidence that we cannot do what we set out to do, this increases self-doubt and leads to the self-image shrinking.”

Three-quarters of SMEs shifted direction in some way

  • Only 30% of SME owners say they achieved their short-term business goals in the time frame initially set
  • 75% of SME owners changed direction of business in some way, with 17% making big changes to the original plan
  • Survey reveals 88% of SME owners turning over £500,000 secured investment to help their business grow

Despite over a third (36%) of SME owners starting their business for more flexibility, 15% admit they have struggled with work-life balance iwoca’s survey revealed that 75% of SME owners said the direction of their business had changed in some way since their original plan. Moreover, when reflecting on their original business plans, 17% of SME owners decided to completely change the direction of their business.

Since this complete change in direction, 67% of these SME owners now have an annual turnover of £500,000+, and 18% have an annual turnover of over £1 million.

Changing the business plan is not the only way in which business owners said things did not go as expected.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of SME owners did not achieve their short-term goals within their initial time frame and budget

The survey reveals that over two-fifths (44%) of SME owners who said they needed extra time to complete their initial goals took on average 7-12 months longer to do so:

Extra time needed by SME owners to complete initial short-term goals Percentage of respondents who agreed with this statement
Up to 6 months 0%
7-12 months 44%
13-18 months 26%
19 months – 2 years 13%
3-5 years 11%
More than 5 years 0%

Sharon Pocock, founder of accountancy firm Kinder Pocock: “Focus in business is extremely important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will go to plan or exactly how you set out as part of your original strategy. As Accountants, our job is to help this process and make sure the business owners we work with continue to evolve and maintain their focus while remembering why they started in the first place.

“Make sure the business is working for you, not you working for the business.”

The survey also reveals that long-term goals are often (in 50% of cases) taken at least 13 more months than expected to achieve. In order to combat this, 17% of business owners reduced their short-term goals in order to achieve them within their initial time frame and budget. Furthermore, 22% said they had to increase their budget in order to achieve their goals.

To view the full research, which includes examples of successful companies for inspiration, please visit iwoca

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