Navigating the current SME owner stress epidemic

Local News 14 Jun 2022

FSB Member Spotlight: Key Wellbeing Limited

FSB in the North East and Tees Valley are running an ongoing campaign to highlight the fantastic businesses we have in our membership across the area. In the latest article, Stockton-based members, Key Wellbeing Ltd, share their advice and guidance on wellbeing for small business owners. Read on to find out more on their unique insights.

Start your own business, they said, it will be fun they said…Entrepreneurship can often be romanticised and it seems that many have been attracted to its charm over the last couple of years.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the percentage of Brits running a young enterprise hit a record high last year, in fact it was the highest number since records began in the late 1990s. 

While the idea of being your own boss and doing what you love can appear as the ultimate dream - there’s no denying that it comes with stressors. 

Small biz stresses 

Let’s be honest, every part of your business has the potential to stress you out. Whether that’s a lack of sales, supply shortages, poor performing employees…the list goes on. But it’s the last two years that have been the most challenging. 


The thing that we’re all sick and tired of seems to finally be receding, yet the fallout continues. Covid has had a devastating impact on many small businesses, forcing hundreds of thousands of them to close and leaving owners feeling exhausted. 

And for those SMEs that have survived, they’re still navigating pandemic-related disruptions such as a loss of customers, supply chain problems and temporary closure concerns. 

Financial fears 

Research reported that 61% of SME owners had financial concerns at some point in the pandemic, with over two million unable to access any kind of financial support. Fast-forward to today, and finances remain a huge worry for many due to the rising inflation and cost-of-living and doing business crisis. 

70% of small business owners report that rising costs are their single greatest challenge at the moment and are concerned that they may face bankruptcy in the coming months. 

The Great Resignation 

Are you facing great difficulties attracting and retaining great talent? You’re not alone. Over the past year, more than half of SME owners report that it’s become much more challenging to find the right talent, as well as retain it - partly because they’re unable to adopt attractive retention techniques like the bigger companies. 

Running the show is tough at the best of times. Throw in the above current pressures and we’re not surprised that SME owners' mental health and wellbeing is taking a hit…

How to manage the self-employed stress epidemic 

A recent study has found that three in five SME owners are feeling stressed, over 50% are suffering from anxiety and a third are battling with depression. With this emerging mental health crisis it’s more important than ever for the small business community to look after themselves. 

To help, we’ve put together our go-to stress-busting tips for SMEs:

  • Think about your work-life balance

More than a quarter of small business owners have reported that their work-life balance is worse now compared to before the pandemic. Can you relate? We understand that when running your own business you’re automatically inclined to keep striving, but all work and no play will lead to burnout.

Schedule time in your daily diary for LIFE and stick to it - spend it with family and friends, explore new places, binge-watch your favourite Netflix series, do things that make you smile, away from your inbox.  

  • Move your body

A common excuse from busy business owners is that they’re simply ‘too busy’ to exercise, but is that true? From spending as little as 10 minutes’ of your day brisk walking you can increase your mental alertness, energy and boost your mood. 

  • Breathe!

It’s one of the most overlooked stress management tools that we have at our instant disposal with no cost included, yet so many of us don’t give it a second thought. From simply taking some deep breaths and paying more attention to how you’re breathing, it helps signal to the nervous system to calm down. Try our 30-second breather here.

  • Support is available, don’t be afraid to use it

Last but not least, we want to remind you that it’s okay to ask for help. Despite the increasing number of SME owners experiencing a mental health issue, research has found that just 30% of those struggling have sought professional support. If you feel that you are struggling to manage on your own, our door at Key Wellbeing is always open. Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you:  

What's happening in your local area?

Visit our regional pages to find your local FSB staff and volunteers, as well as upcoming events and what's happening where you live.

Find out more