Barclays research reveals that UK small business owners spend 60 % longer at work than average

From: Barclays bank
Published: Sat Jul 29 2006

Barclays research reveals that UK entrepreneurs spent an average of 61.1 hours working each week in 2005, significantly ahead of the UK average working week of 37.4 hours.

However, as the long hours culture persists more and more owner-managers are drawing the line at letting work eat into their weekends. 43 per cent said they now will not work weekends compared to 36 per cent in 2003 and Sundays have become even more precious with only 29 per cent admitting to working on that day compared to 36 per cent in 2003.

Brendan Horgan, commercial director at Barclays Business Banking said: “Long hours have always been a bi-product of running your own business but it does seem that over the last couple of years business owners are making conscious decisions to keep the long hours to Monday to Friday wherever possible, whilst allowing time for leisure, family and friends at the weekends.”

Barclays analysis of SME owners’ working week also highlights the increased burden of complying with business regulations. On average entrepreneurs are spending over 15 hours a week ??" equivalent to almost two full days for most workers ??" on administration. Six out of ten entrepreneurs feel that regulation is a barrier to doing business, particularly in larger SMEs, where owners highlighted the impact of employment regulation (PAYE and payroll, health and safety, pensions) and accounting regulation (tax and VAT).

Brendan Horgan commented: “Many entrepreneurs are caught in a ‘regulatory trap’, too big to manage regulations on their own but not big enough to employ others to ease the burden. Dealing with seemingly endless red tape is often at the expense of spending time on other priorities, such as business and product development.

There are many things that business owners can do to reclaim precious time. Some banks will work with businesses to conduct a review of their operational processes identifying cost and time savings. One easy way to save time is to bank online - as the research indicates, businesses who adopt new technologies are already enjoying shorter working weeks”.

Barclays research of how SME owner-managers spend their working week also showed:

The development and uptake of new technologies is having a positive impact on hours worked - 46 per cent of businesses with internet access work a standard 5 day week, compared to just 35 per cent of those without.

Owners see a desire to retain control (51 per cent) and the lack of anyone else able to undertake the task (67 per cent) as the main barriers to reducing their working week.

Regionally, South West entrepreneurs, with its concentration of hotels, retailers and leisure operators spent the most hours working each week (65.5 hours). In addition owner-managers in Wales were much more likely to work on a Sunday than other regions with 48 per cent of Welsh entrepreneurs worked on a Sunday last year, compared to 27 per cent in England.

Business development remains the area where business owners feel they invest less time than they ideally should. About 1 in 10 businesses do not even undertake this activity.

However, most SMEs just want some more leisure time. When asked what they would do if they could free up an extra hour each day, by changing the way they worked, 72 per cent in 2005 said leisure; just 5 per cent said new business activities.

Contact Barclays:
Barclays Business Banking
Alan White
020 7116 6232
Company: Barclays bank
Contact Name: samqam
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 01315612251

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