Although the economy has drastically improved since the start of 2013, many SMEs across all industries are still finding it difficult to achieve the results seen before the recession hit in 2008. As a result, the owners of these smaller firms are putting in longer and longer hours at the office in a bid to increase profit margins substantially.
This is especially pertinent for small business owners in the retail industry, as new research has revealed that they remain in the workplace 59 per cent longer than the average British worker. In fact, participating retail owners clocked up an astonishing 51 hours per week during the course of the research.
The study was commissioned by Penelope, a call handling solution for small businesses. Co-founder Ed Reeves believes that the results are a demonstration of “the hard work being invested by small business owners.”
He continues; “Being the owner and operator of a small business means taking on multiple roles and being everything to every customer.
“Many of these owners are both time and cash strapped and they need to make the most of every day because the amount of time being squeezed into the working week is enormous.”
It certainly appears that a willingness to make their business succeed in financial terms is the motivation behind these excessive hours to the majority of small retailers. 64 per cent of participants in the study claimed that they would prefer to have more money than time, thus showcasing an ever-present anxiety which the recession instilled in so many SMEs.
Yet this desire to protect their business financially could be just the thing standing between owners and success. By hiring more staff in order to bring fresh perspectives to everyday challenges and ensure all tasks are taken care of in a timely manner, bosses could see revenues increase dramatically – however, this would involve allocating higher percentages of their budget to wages.
Unfortunately, it appears that this trend of working longer hours is set to continue. According to recent employment statistics released by the ONS, there was an increase in hours worked during the past three months of 0.3 per cent, indicating that, while wages may not be going up noticeably, working hours most definitely are.
The real question that must be asked, then, is how small retailers can access the assistance required for both financial security and business growth. With government initiatives piling the pressure on banks and building societies to begin lending in earnest, perhaps the time has never been better to apply for additional funds to help with staff growth.
After all, even the busiest business owner needs to sleep – and by putting in fewer hours at work, maybe they could even find the time to do so!
Do you think there is enough support available for small business owners?
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