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Following a tumultuous two years of lockdowns, restrictions and uncertainty, new research has revealed that the challenges facing owners today are proving no less difficult. In the midst of the cost-of-living crisis, many describe how their mental health has worsened with 20 per cent reporting battling depression.

The survey of over 600 small business owners, commissioned by small business insurance provider Simply Business, has revealed the key challenges facing SME owners in 2023. 18 per cent rated their mental health as ‘bad’, and four per cent ‘very bad’. Just over half of the participants reported feeling stressed, with 39% per cent experiencing anxiety and 22 per cent are struggling with insomnia.

Over four in five small business owners are worried about how the cost of living crisis is affecting their business, with two-thirds seeing rising costs as the biggest challenge to their business heading into 2023. A quarter of business owners are worried they simply won’t be able to pay their bills in 2023.

As a result, 15 per cent have no confidence in their business heading into the New Year with the reality of the cost of living crisis also affecting the way that SMEs can prepare for 2023. Three in ten say they’re unable to plan or budget due to uncertainty, a tenth have been unable to order stock and three in five say their profit margins are down.

And with pressure mounting and with the reliance on festive trading, many small business owners were forced to work throughout the holidays. One in three didn’t take any real break in December – with one in 10 working the whole of the festive period, and 23 per cent needing to check emails, take calls, and process orders throughout. In fact, 15 per cent last took a holiday or break from running their business 3-5 years ago, while 10 per cent last took one over 5 years ago.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: “The self-employed are feeling the pressure of the current economic climate more than most, the effect of which is having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. Our study found that four in five small business owners are worried about the impact the cost of living crisis will have on their business, resulting in a fifth of respondents battling depression.

“Small businesses account for 99 per cent of all British businesses, contributing trillions of pounds a year to the economy in turnover. The recovery of our economy and communities is directly linked to their success.

“Simply Business feel compelled to highlight this issue and provide practical support where possible. Insuring over 850,000 small business owners and landlords helps us understand the specific wellbeing challenges being faced by the self-employed, and the reasons behind this concerning data. That’s why we’ve launched the Better for Business Wellbeing Hub for SME owners – working with a range of experts to bring free tailored resources and wellbeing tips to the self-employed.”

The Fed is aware of the struggles members are facing. Our member-led organisation aims to help independent retailers make money, save money and make business easier. Members should look at the benefits available to them during the cost-of-living crisis.

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