SMEs appreciate flexibility and freedom of running their own business

RICS launches guidance for small businesses on managing propertyThe latest ONS employment figures indicate that the boom in self-employment appears to have ended, as the number of self-employed people has fallen for the first time since before the recession. Yet those who’ve successfully started their own businesses have something to celebrate. According to a report from AXA PPP, SME owners appreciate the greater flexibility (58 percent) and the greater freedom (37 percent) that owning a business gives them. Seventy per cent of owners also said they are proud, inspired, content or fortunate to own their own business, highlighting the positive effects that having control over your working life can bring. More than a third (35 percent) admitted they could delegate more to improve the way they manage their business – with nearly half (47 percent) of business owners reporting that the pressure of work spills over into their home life.

Despite this, many SME owners do manage to switch off from their work, with more than a third (36 percent) doing so by spending time with their family and, for over a fifth (22 percent), by taking exercise. But only 11 percent say they would go to the pub or have a drink to switch off from work. And nearly two thirds (63 percent) of owners reported feeling pressured only some of the time or not very often, suggesting they were getting the balance right.

Glen Parkinson, SME Business Director at AXA PPP healthcare, commented: “UK SME owners need to delegate more and only have daily involvement in those activities that truly need their expertise. Reducing their involvement in wider business activities and empowering their teams to do these tasks will help build trust and will hopefully prevent them from taking work pressure home. It is very encouraging to see small business owners are taking measures to achieve a reasonable work/life balance even through stressful periods.”

When asked what areas of the business they are involved in on a day to day basis, business strategy was the most common area, with 81 percent of owners being involved in this daily. However, 61 per cent of owners also said they had day to day involvement in business operations and production and new business development (61 percent). More than half were involved in sales and marketing (59 percent) and customer service (55 percent) on a daily basis.

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