Over half of business owners say 2023 has been one of their most stressful years

More than three-quarters of business owners are losing sleep worrying about their company – as six in ten named 2023 as one of their most stressful years yet. A study of 500 adults, who run a firm, found generating new business tops the list of the biggest challenges they face – followed by rising operational costs, and balancing work with their personal lives.

Meanwhile, 39 percent are regularly working beyond normal working hours, and 34 percent are sacrificing their weekends taking work calls.

It also emerged that, despite 89 percent believing it’s important to have strong pitching and presenting skills, 59 percent admit they feel nervous when doing so.

And over half (55 percent) feel their business would have benefitted if they had been taught public speaking as a child.

James Holian, head of business banking at NatWest, which commissioned the research, said: “We know that helping business leaders succeed – not just through traditional banking services, but with full wraparound business support – is crucial if we want a strong small business sector.

“While it’s never easy running a business, with the right support, we can assist businesses in overcoming challenges, and help to drive their business forward.”

The study also found 45 percent have contended with the rising cost of living, with one in three struggling with the ever-increasing price of goods and services within their company – and the energy crisis has had an impact on 28 percent.

But the majority (92 percent) have taken steps to reduce their stress in the workplace – including making healthier lifestyle choices, and taking short breaks throughout the day.

The research, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed 77 percent feel putting up with the stress of running a business is worth it to grow the company.

To expand their enterprise, business owners and CEOs are focusing on product diversification (27 percent), and their digital e-commerce presence (26 percent).

And 26 percent are also exploring how they can adapt to new and emerging technologies to aim their growth.

To support their growth, 36 percent of business owners would consult a bank or financial advisor, while others would speak to a professional advisor or consultant (46 percent), or an industry peer (32 percent).

Three in ten would turn to their family, a quarter to their friends – and nine percent would even consult a stranger, such as a taxi driver or bartender.

James Holian, from NatWest, which has helped 35,000 individuals and businesses through schemes like its Entrepreneur Hub, added: “Whatever the size of your business – if you’re just starting out, already growing fast, or even thinking about scaling – support could help you get there, and help you overcome those challenges, faster.

“This is why we have revolutionised the way we support entrepreneurs in recent years, bringing mentoring, insight, and bespoke coaching to them.”

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