48% of small business owners feel they have nobody to confide in about their business worries

Claudio-Gienal- AXA-UK&I-Chief-Executive-Officer

A new study from AXA UK reveals almost half of small business owners feel they have nobody to confide in about the problems and stress they are under

The cost-of-living crisis, finding new customers and inflation are along the top stressors for SMEs

This research comes as six business owners win AXA’s Startup Angel Competition, with two top prizes of £25,000, invaluable mentorship and 12-months of business insurance

The SME Wellbeing Report from AXA UK has revealed nearly half of business owners feel they have nobody to confide in about their problems and the stress they feel.

Two in three don’t think they can talk to friends or family about the stress they feel because they don’t want to worry them, while nearly half (48%) find it hard to know who they can talk to about their business troubles. As a result, 44% of the 500 SME owners polled feel they're unable to do the best possible job for both them and their staff.

The cost-of-living crisis (45%), finding new customers (37%) and inflation (35%) are among the things which stress out SME owners.

This research comes the same day as six small business owners have won AXA’s Start Up Angel Competition which helps small businesses achieve their full potential. Muihood, a skincare brand rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and Team Repair, a sustainable subscription service that teaches children science and technology have each won £25,000, invaluable mentorship from some of Britain's best entrepreneurs as well as 12-months of business insurance. While four other outstanding businesses have won digital ad campaigns with the Evening Standard. With 26% of respondents concerned about the financial burden of their business, the prize money aims to alleviate this stress.

Claudio Gienal, CEO at AXA UK and Ireland said, “It can be a very lonely place being an SME owner, which is why it is so important to ensure you can confide in someone who can relate to how you feel. Especially for those who have built much of their business alone, it can feel very strange opening up about what is going on in your workplace. 

But for many, taking those first steps and talking through what you are concerned about goes a long way to lifting that burden – it can offer a new perspective on what’s going on, as well as a renewed sense of clarity to the situation. When it comes to looking for support, there are many avenues business owners can take; for example, having robust insurance can help to take a weight off the mind.”

It is a different picture when it comes to communicating with members of staff as more than a third (34%) of those with employees on the payroll say they are very open with them about potential issues the business could encounter. However, a further 38% will only reveal a selected amount of information relating to the problems which they could face.

When it comes to staff wellbeing, more than half say they genuinely care about their staff and 44% are striving to create a positive work culture. In fact, two out of five take an active interest to strengthen the relationship between them and their staff, while 36% believe it is important for staff retention. 

Additionally, two thirds said they believe small businesses are better at reacting to the concerns of their staff. This is because they are considered to be more in tune with their employees (63%), have fewer formal processes in place (50%), and management is more accessible (49%). As a result, 65% of those polled via OnePoll feel confident managing people who are struggling with their mental health. 

Claudio Gienal, CEO at AXA UK and Ireland added, “To thrive in business, it is so important to have open and honest relationships – and it is fantastic to learn many are doing their utmost to harness positivity in their workplace.

Many SME owners really recognise the importance of wellbeing and are doing everything in their power to create a space where members of staff feel comfortable talking about their concerns.

Yet, they mustn’t forget to look after themselves as well, particularly if they are going through tough times. At AXA, we want to give our customers the confidence to thrive, so we’re pleased to see so many businesses feeling optimistic about what lies ahead.

As we look to a positive future for SME owners, I’m delighted to congratulate the winners of AXA’s Startup Angel Competition, who will each receive significant support to help their innovative business succeed.”

Charlotte Yau, AXA Startup Angel Competition winner and Founder and Owner at Muihood, a skincare brand rooted in Chinese medicine commented, “Since launching my own brand over two years ago, I've learned that putting my health and wellbeing first is crucial for maintaining happiness and perspective. Running a business is a marathon, and sprinting can only get you so far until you feel the effects mentally and physically. Looking after your mental health will help you gain perspective on what really matters and also give you the energy to keep going and not feel resentful in the job. If you never allow yourself to rest, hard work will always feel like punishment. Being the boss is really hard and will consume a lot of your headspace, so having a healthy disconnect to pause and reflect on the bigger picture is so important.”

Authored by AXA UK

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In July 2012 the AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary businesses came together to form a new single organisation – AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary.

The business offers brokers a more integrated and consistent approach from AXA which is focussed on their needs as a business – whatever the product. AXA Commercial Lines & Personal Intermediary provides underwriting expertise, offering a range of commercial lines and personal lines products and insurance solutions to our brokers and customers.  AXA Commercial & Personal Intermediary is part of AXA Group, a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management serving 101 million clients

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