Hiscox: Small Business Stress Factors

April 3, 2012

Small businesses, the lifeblood of the US economy, have literally carried the stresses and strains of the world on their backs since the beginning of the recession, according to a new small business survey from Bermuda-based Hiscox, the first and only insurer to enable small businesses to purchase business insurance direct and online in real-time.

Three quarters of respondents reported physical ailments as a result of stress at work, including lack of energy [33 percent], headaches [32 percent], back pain [30 percent] and anxious thoughts [29 percent].

A combination of longer hours, fear and working harder to service new business has led more than one-quarter [26 percent] of respondents to describe themselves as stressed. The key drivers of this stress include concerns about losing their business altogether [54 percent], losing clients [51 percent], health deterioration [41 percent] and bringing in new business [49 percent].

“Managing a small business can be liberating and rewarding, but over the last few years it has become increasingly stressful,” said Kevin Kerridge, small business insurance expert at Hiscox. “It is clear that small business owners remain determined, focused and flexible, but are also working harder to keep up with pressures facing them and their teams.”

Despite an improved economic outlook, small businesses are working harder to service both existing and new clients. Over a quarter [29 percent] of businesses surveyed had experienced a surge in new clients and 39 percent are working harder to simply service existing clients.

Fifteen percent work 11 hours or more daily, although the majority of entrepreneurs [59 percent] reported working between eight and 10 hours each day.

“It is well-documented that some degree of ‘stress’ is necessary for self-motivation and for meeting a challenge, but that too much stress can create anxiety, depression and a host of negative physical symptoms, such as aches, pains and a loss of energy,” said psychologist Donna Dawson who specializes in personality and behaviour issues. “The point at which ‘positive’, motivating stress, becomes ‘negative’, destructive stress, varies from person to person, but the first symptoms involve feeling overwhelmed and out-of-control.”

Despite increased stress, more than two-thirds [69 percent] feel mentally prepared to tackle the business challenges of the year ahead, which could be related to 59 percent giving priority to their physical health.

Although only 15 percent believe the economy is already in recovery mode, 57 percent do expect their business to grow in the coming year and only 10 percent expect it to shrink.

“Businesses are operating under extraordinarily stressful circumstances. Stress is an important biological process in dealing with difficult situations. But the stress reaction is intended to be temporary,” said Dr. David Bull, a medical doctor and an entrepreneur who founded strategic brand communication company IncrediBull in 2000. “It’s important to make sure that you take steps to combat stress which include eating healthy, making time for exercise, ensuring you get enough sleep, having time out, taking part in hobbies or outside activities and ensuring that you schedule vacations.”

Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange. Hiscox is the first company in the US to offer insurance for small professional services businesses direct, online, and in real-time.

Hiscox also provides professional liability, property and specialty insurance to US businesses through US-based brokers.

Read More About

Category: All, Business