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North East business owners pushed to breaking point

ByCharley Williams

Jan 24, 2017

A quarter (27%) of North East company owners lose motivation to continue running their business at least once a year compared to a national average of 35%, according to a new study by top 12 UK chartered accountants Haines Watts.

The company, which has offices in Newcastle and Darlington, has over 80 years of experience, specialising in the owner-managed business sector.

The study shows that while the motivation figure is below the national average, one in four North East business owners are still losing motivation, with financial worries being their main source of stress. The research finds that this is having a significant impact on their personal lives, including their work-life balance, health and wellbeing and relationships.

There are also significant regional differences in the findings. London and South East and Welsh (45%) business owners are the most likely to lose motivation at least once a year, while North West (24%) business owners are the least likely to experience this sapping of motivation.


Money matters

Nearly two thirds of North East business owners (62%) identify financial worries as a source of stress and a drain on their motivation, followed by responsibility to staff (54%) and peaks and troughs in work (51%). However, psychological research, which assesses the implicit responses of business owners*, reveals that money can also be a powerful positive influence whether or not we admit it, scoring strong positive agreement (64 out of 100) that it is the biggest motivating factor. This rises to 85 out of 100 for the over 50s.

Donna Bulmer, managing partner at Haines Watts, comments: “Our research shows that money is one of the most common reasons why business owners find themselves stressed, which can dampen their motivation. Part of this stems from business owners attempting to tackle financial difficulties, such as cash flow problems, growing pains and over-expansion, as they arise rather than planning for them in advance.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way. Business owners need to create time to step back and plan for the future. This often starts with short, medium and long term business planning and then building a strong management team to help deliver the plan and keep the wheels turning.”


Paying the price

The survey found that North East Business owners are working long hours to keep their enterprises going, adding to this undulating stress. Only 3% say their work-life balance is tipped towards life, while almost two thirds (57%) say it goes the other way.

The majority of business owners admit they sometimes “wish they were doing something else” (71 out of 100). This love-hate relationship with their job is damaging the health and wellbeing of UK business owners and their personal relationships.

According to business owners, running a business is detrimental to physical health (60 out of 100) and even more detrimental to mental health (70 out of 100). Business owners admit they find their position “emotionally exhausting” (73 out of 100), rising to 81 out of 100 for men.

Around a third of North East business owners reveal that their relationships with their partner (32%) and children (32%) have also suffered as a result of running a company.


Rekindling the love


When it comes to business owners rekindling their love for running their company, in the North East their own personal drive and responsibility to employees trump everything else.

Two thirds (67%) of North East business owners say personal drive and responsibility to employees re-motivates them, while 61% say remembering why they started the business in the first place gives them the drive to go on.

Bulmer adds: “No amount of money is worth the cost of being pushed to breaking point, and yet business owners often don’t know where to turn for help. Personal drive is a key motivator for those pushed to the brink, but it’s also crucial for business owners to build a wider network of support so that they don’t become over reliant on themselves.

“Being able to discuss concerns and share advice with like-minded people can be a real life saver for business owners overshadowed by complex challenges and who, as a result, lack the will to go on.”