Entrepreneurs have put almost £12,000 (£11,846.45) of their own money into their businesses on average, according to new research.
Worryingly, 2.6m business owners admit to having concerns about the future – a quarter even believe that their business will go under in the next five years.
These findings come from Business Rewired, a report by Xero looking at the greatest concerns for SME owners in the future. The most prominent worries are:
|Receiving payments late||54pc|
|Tax rates for small businesses||44pc|
|Uncertainty of Brexit||44pc|
|Value of the pound||40pc|
|Maintaining or increasing levels of productivity||31pc|
|Increasing cost of importing goods/materials||30pc|
|Cyber attacks/cost of protection against them||27pc|
|Rising cost of rent||25pc|
|Attracting high calibre employees||24pc|
|Cost of running a green/sustainable business||23pc|
|Failure to meet demand||23pc|
|Increasing cost of exporting products||19pc|
|Inflexible employee contracts||19pc|
|Cost of staff recruitment||19pc|
|Staff going on annual leave||17pc|
Pressures like these have affected the mental health of more than a third of respondents, with small business owners working an extra nine hours per week on average on top of their standard working hours.
Optimism in the industry
Despite a dismal year for SMEs, experts believe that the emergence of AI will ease the strain on exhausted business owners.
Gerd Leonhard, business futurist and contributor to the report, says:
“Automation is reducing the need for humans to undertake routine tasks and the world of work is heading towards a dramatic reset. Everything we assume about work, jobs, training and education is being challenged by exponential scientific and technological progress. Whether you’re a small business owner, an accountant, bookkeeper or advisor, these emerging trends will affect you very soon.”
Leonhard added that over the next 20 years, AI will revolutionise routine as we know it and cut working hours by up to half; a ‘blended workforce’ will transform the number of employers workers have; and digital transactions and the death of the 30-day payment model will spell the end of late payments as SMEs move towards a happier, healthier economy.
However, employees mustn’t be forgotten in all of this. Emma Gannon, author, podcast host and contributor to the report, said: “We are in a time when young people are job-hopping more than ever, and the pressure is on for companies to retain their employees. This means adapting to the changes that are here right now and coming in the next few years.”
The measures I put in place to attract and retain new talent