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Committed small businesses owners sacrifice personal life to keep on track

6th April 2012

The UK’s small business owners are working long hours, through ill-health, and with few or no holidays, according to new research from Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banks. According to the Banks’ estimates, owners put in over 64 million extra working days each year to keep their businesses going.

Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banks’ new research indicates that more than 2.5 million (57%) small business owners haven’t had a single day off sick in the last three years. Compared to the average worker, the research suggests that small business owners between them have worked around 46 million extra days since 2009 (15.3m per year) compared to average UK workers, who take 6 sick days a year (source: CBI).

“Small business owners have invested their own money and passion in their company, so they will fight through the coughs and colds that might keep others at home under the duvet,” explains Colin Fyfe, divisional director at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. “When the bottom line is that the success of your business rests on you, there is a massive motivation to keep going when a regular employee might not.”

And those running the country’s small businesses aren’t working shorter hours either. The Banks calculate that around 1million owners are working more than 45 hours per week, with almost two thirds of those putting in over 50 hours, far more than the UK average working week; 39.1hours (source: ONS). Together, they could be doing more than 1.3million extra days, each year.

“During a tough period for the economy, where the immediate future has been unclear, taking on or even just keeping staff has been difficult for small businesses. Owners, who often don’t draw much of a salary or pay themselves overtime, are rolling up their sleeves and working extended hours to ensure their customers are looked after, and their businesses survive,” commented Colin.

Worryingly, perhaps, the people who own and run the small businesses around the UK, are not taking holidays and time away from work to “recharge their batteries” either. Around 1 in 7 (14.6%) has taken no holidays in the last year, while a further third (33.7%) took fewer than 15 days. Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks’ research indicates that almost all (84%) small business owners are taking fewer days off than the statutory entitlement of 28 days; the Banks estimate they forego almost 49million days off each year.

Colin Fyfe, continued, “With times being tough, you can understand if small business owners don’t want to close for holidays, or spend money on overseas trips, but it is worrying that they don’t seem to take time for themselves. Being healthy, and on top of your game, is an important part of succeeding in business. Investing time in your physical, mental and social well-being can be every bit as valuable as cash is to your business.”

But small business owners do recognise the sacrifices they are making, and the impact that has on themselves and their relationships. When asked what they would like to change about running their business this year, half of those operating a small business (52%) would take more time for themselves, or spend more time with family and friends.

Colin remarked, “It is good that the need to spend more time with those closest to them and for themselves is recognised. But knowing how to achieve that is more difficult.

“Talking to advisers and experts; people who can help you work smarter – using tools to reduce some of the administration; such as our Small Business Hub, or make tasks simpler, can add real value.

“It could be something as straightforward as banking online, or over the phone that frees up some time to relax, rest and recuperate.”

More details of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks business banking products and Business Hub can be found at and

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