A third (37%) of South West company owners completely lose motivation to continue running their business at least once a year, according to a new study by top 12 UK chartered accountants Haines Watts.
This figure is in line with the national average of 35%, which is far higher than desirable. Peaks and troughs in the volume of work is the main source of stress and drain on motivation for South West business owners. The research finds 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 East (27%) and North West (24%) business owners are the least likely to experience this sapping of motivation.
More than half of South West business owners (58%) identify peaks and troughs in the volume of work as a source of stress and a drain on their motivation, followed by financial worries (51%) and responsibility to staff (47%). 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.
Haines Watts has four offices across Devon in Exeter, Crediton, Bideford & Barnstaple as well as newly opened office in Launceston, Cornwall.
Ben De Cruz, Managing Partner – Haines Watts Exeter office, comments: “Our research shows that money is one of the most common reasons why business owners find themselves in a spiral of stress, 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
South West business owners are working long hours to keep their enterprises going, adding to this undulating stress. None of them say their work-life balance is tipped towards life, while over two thirds (70%) 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.
Running a business is even more detrimental to mental health (70 out of 100) than it is to physical health (60 out of 100). Business owners admit they find their position “emotionally exhausting” (73 out of 100), rising to 81 out of 100 for men.
Two fifths of South West business owners reveal that their relationship with their partner (40%) has also suffered as a result of running a company, while over a third (33%) say the same is true for the relationship with their children.
Rekindling the love
When it comes to business owners rekindling their love for running their company, in the South West personal drive and family trump everything else.
Two thirds (67%) of South West business owners say their own personal drive and family re-motivates them, while 54% cite their responsibility to their employees and money as key re-motivating factors.
De Cruz 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 and family are key motivators for those pushed to the brink, but it’s also crucial for business owners to build a wider network of support.
“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.”