The Mental Health of Business Owners:

The week of 14th-18th June was some time ago now. And it likely went by largely unnoticed by the majority of people. Yet, it was actually Loneliness Awareness week. Given the recent emphasis on mental health awareness, it’s surprising that it wasn’t more widely known about. 

After all, we’ve heard a lot about loneliness over the past year and a half. Understandably, there has been a lot of focus on the well-being of NHS staff and key workers. Much has been written about elderly relatives or those struggling alone in a hospital. The harrowing stories of people dependant on visitors from the outside world have been particularly upsetting.

Not much, though, has been written about the mental health of entrepreneurs and business owners. And we’re not referring to those running multi-million-pound businesses. Instead, we’re talking about the small shopkeepers and restaurant owners. And, what about the startup businesses not knowing how to persuade staff to return to their offices?

These are the people the Government are hoping will rebuild the UK economy and – one day – pay the bill for Covid. But are they going to be in the right state of mind to do that?

The Covid Impact on SMEs

Covid has impacted all areas of life. And, during the pandemic, business owners and directors of SMEs have faced challenges they could never have foreseen. 

The first lockdown came out of nowhere. So, while businesses had to grapple with being blind-sided, they also had to quickly mobilise their forces for the online world. Add into the mix wrestling with the complexities of furlough and it must have seemed a thankless task. And alongside trying to protect against losing clients and customers, wondering when it might all return to normal, and grappling with unprecedented levels of borrowing, the whole situation must have seemed a never-ending nightmare. And this was all before the second wave hit!

Unsurprisingly then, even in the wake of ‘Freedom Day,’ the difficult questions were still riding high for businesses. “Should I insist that all my staff get vaccinated? Am I legally entitled to do that? Can I insist that everyone comes back to the office?” 

The Return To Normal

For so long, many of us have been looking forward to a ‘return to normal.’ But, it’s not clear that what we are dealing with is a ‘new normal.’ Things were unlikely to ever go back to exactly as they were before after such a prolonged period of disruption. But for people running the UK’s SMEs, the definition of “new normal” seems to change on an almost daily basis. 

Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy. According to the Federation of Small Business (FSB) there were 5.94m small businesses in the UK at the start of 2020. They account for 60% of the employment and half the UK’s private sector turnover – estimated at £2.3tn by the FSB. 

If the economy is to recover to pre-Covid levels, then the health – especially the mental health – of the people running these businesses is crucial. So let us hope that the problem is more widely acknowledged and covered by the mainstream media in the coming months. It will undoubtedly be interesting to see, in future years, how (and which!) businesses stood up to the challenges presented by the world today.

 

 

At Lewis Brownlee Financial Services, we know that your finances are an emotional business. So, we can help you navigate your way through the complexities. Feel free to call us on 01243 767 469, or email us from our contact page – we will be more than happy to see how we can help!

Written by Ian Barnett

Ian is an experienced Chartered Financial Planner as well as being a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society, with over 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry.  With a broad range of client experience and expertise, Ian specialises in financial matters from Pre-Retirement Planning to Inheritance Tax Planning and all points in between.

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