Report reveals ‘Wellbeing is key catalyst for new start-ups’

Personal wellbeing is a key factor driving entrepreneurs to leave traditional jobs and set up their own businesses. This is a core finding of a new research study into the motivations of new business owners.

Last year saw a record number of small business openings in the UK and the study indicates that dissatisfied employees looking to move away from traditional employment for the sake of their wellness played a significant role in this.

The SME Business Owner Mental Health Report by The Accountancy Partnership found that more than two-thirds (43%) of entrepreneurs started their business to improve their work-life balance and a fifth (19%) were striving to improve their mental health, highlighting a desire for control over wellbeing.

Several notable studies have revealed that working from home during the pandemic led to workweeks becoming as much as 10% longer, demonstrating why so many have moved away from traditional employment throughout the pandemic.

This trend towards mental health and wellbeing is further highlighted by the main challenges faced in traditional employment. Two-fifths (41%) of SME owners reported feeling underappreciated in their job, something an American Psychological Association study found was directly linked to overall wellbeing and performance, with those that feel valued experiencing better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of satisfaction and motivation.

Other commonly cited reasons for leaving employment were a lack of development opportunities (37%), difficult relationships with managers (20%), inability to earn a desired salary (28%) and a lack of control over workload (28%).

Lee Murphy, managing director at The Accountancy Partnership, said: “Our research clearly shows that many people are finding it increasingly difficult to work in traditional employment situations,, and starting their own business was an outlet to improve and take control of their mental wellbeing. Owning a business is not for everyone, and can be extremely challenging, but for those who felt a lack of control or experienced problems in relationships with bosses when working for someone else, it seems to be a popular alternative.”

The Accountancy Partnership’s research indicated that on the whole, becoming a business owner has had a positive impact on wellbeing. More than nine in 10 (92%) entrepreneurs report being happier since becoming their own boss and only 1% are less happy since starting their own venture.

Lee added: “While starting a business has allowed many to take control of their work-life balance, workload and overall wellbeing, it is not a perfect answer. For almost two years, entrepreneurs have had to work through the uncertainty of the pandemic and political turbulence.

“When asked which events have been most detrimental to their mental wellbeing, more than half (55%) of SME owners said the pandemic and a quarter cited the general strains of running a business. A further fifth (19%) found Brexit the most challenging, and forced business closure and sudden remote working as a result of lockdowns were reported as the most damaging issues by 8% and 6% respectively.”