According to new research by Ultimate Finance, small business owners in Scotland are feeling more isolated that the rest of the UK
Nearly 80% of SMEs in Scotland feel lonely in their position, making them the most isolated small business owners in the UK.
That’s according to research by SME funding partner Ultimate Finance, which says loneliness has recently been identified as potentially fatal, with lonely people 30% more likely to suffer a strike or heart disease two of the leading causes of death in Britain.
As well as being the loneliest country in the UK, 82% those surveyed in Scotland said they didn’t know where to turn to for support when times get tough. This figure is also the highest in the UK with English, Welsh and Northern Irish SMEs all reporting more awareness of support services.
Ultimate Finance says there is evidence that the issue of loneliness is being compounded by a lack of advice for SMEs looking to grow, with two-thirds (60%) of Scottish-based businesses also stating that they did not feel there is not enough support in the UK for SMEs looking to expand.
It claims that alongside current economic uncertainties, business owners’ concerns about meeting customers’ needs, business strategy, access to funding and maintaining a healthy cashflow are leading to a huge amount of pressure within SMEs, particularly among those striving to grow and succeed.
Steve Noble, Chief Operating Officer at Ultimate Finance, said: “It’s hugely concerning to hear how often Scotland’s small business owners are feeling lonely. I talk to business owners around the UK every day, and this research backs up what I already know – that they are feeing stressed and isolated. Although these feelings can be an unavoidable reality of running a company, it’s clear that more help should be available.
“SMEs are a hugely valuable part of UK society, not only boosting the economy but contributing an enormous amount to local communities. We need to start taking better care of our business community and supporting the leaders who are working around the clock to succeed.”
Business Psychologist Robert Stewart said: “I find business leaders often take on a huge amount of responsibility and can struggle to maintain a personal and professional balance in life. It’s really positive to see research that highlights this issue and I would encourage the business community to come together in order to create a better network for SMEs experiencing these challenges.”
Business owner and founder of Vivid Drinks, an online retailer of Green Tea, James Shillcock, added: “In the first couple of years of running my own business, I was working incredibly long hours. I put a lot of pressure on myself and without a team you can quickly feel isolated. Asking for support or advice shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness – it’s important to keep talking to your network; employees, family and friends about how you’re feeling.
“Isolation and lack of support can stop you performing at your best, which has a knock-on effect on your employees and business. Entrepreneurs have to be proactive but there should be more support available to founders who want it.”
Information and support
Ultimate Finance is creating its own information hub with guidance from health experts and insights from experienced SME owners to support those in need of help. It will also include links to further wellbeing resources including:
· Mental health charity Mind’s dedicated Workplace hub
· A new independent review of mental health and employers by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer, Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers, commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health.