Entrepreneurs keep nose to the grindstone

Work/ life balance is becoming an increasingly remote prospect for Britain's hard-working entrepreneurs...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The average UK entrepreneur is now working 50 hours every week, around three more than last year, according to a new survey by Bank of Scotland. In fact, 43% are now working even longer weeks than this (an increase on last year’s figure of 38%). That means they’re currently getting through a hefty 31m weeks of overtime over the course of the year – and as the slowdown continues to bite, things are only going to get worse in the next 12 months…

So is it worth it? Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that working harder seems to have a positive effect: the owner/ managers of those companies that have grown more than 10% in the last year had also worked the longest hours: an average of just over 52, to be precise. The bad news is that all this nose-to-the-grindstone stuff isn’t very good for your health. The proportion of entrepreneurs reporting that work was stressing them out has jumped from 54% to a worrying 71% - and as we reported last week, stress can often result in higher blood pressure, which in turn puts you at greater risk of lots of nasty health problems.

There is one easy answer for entrepreneurs (at least in principle): take more holiday. When you’re working so hard all year, taking time off is probably even more important than it is for the rest of us mere mortals – but in fact, entrepreneurs are actually much worse than most at taking holiday. They average just 15 days a year – that’s five less than the statutory minimum for UK employees. In fact, one in four don’t even get round to taking a full week off at once all year, which we can’t imagine goes down terribly well with their nearest and dearest.

Bank of Scotland, on the other hand, has an even more fashionable notion: blame it on the Government. ‘We know, from our own experience of working with small businesses, that one of the biggest problems they face is the amount of time spent dealing with administration and regulation,’ says head of strategy Peter Wood. ‘If we can create an environment for small business in Britain that helps SMEs work smarter, by allowing them to get on with the job of running their business, then we will continue to see SMEs grow and prosper’.

So if running your business leaves you feeling a bit overworked and stressed, apparently it’s all Gordon Brown’s fault...


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