By Daniel Hunter

Overtime worked by small business decision makers is worth an estimated £22bn to the UK economy, according to research by digital lenders Everline and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr).

This is equivalent to more than 1% of the UK’s annual GDP.

The research surveyed over 1,000 small business decision makers as part of the Everline Small Business Tracker. On average, almost four in five of those with responsibility for a small business reported working overtime in the last month, with 18% working more than 60 hours or more per week.

In addition, half (52%) of small businesses owners that usually work conventional weekday hours (i.e. not at a restaurant or a pub) plan to work on their business to some extent on at least one bank holiday over the next 12 months, with more than one in ten expecting to work this Boxing Day and New Year’s Day (12% and 13% respectively). This additional work would boost the UK economy by up to an estimated £1.7bn over the next year.

For the majority (51%), working over bank holidays is performed because owners do not want to get behind on their work. Interestingly it is the older generation of small business owners that tend to work more hours outside of their standard working day than their younger counterparts (13 hours vs 9 hours in the last month). As a result, older business owners are more likely to be primarily responsible for a wider range of functions such as marketing, administration and finance.

Russell Gould, Managing Director at Everline, said: “Skills remain an issue for small businesses, and evidently working ‘9 to 5’ is a misnomer for employers who are working longer days in order to compensate for those gaps. The worry is, that in a digital world where speed and time are paramount, small business owners are spending too much time covering other people’s work when they could be focusing on growing their business.”

Sam Alderson, Economist at Cebr said: "The strong pick-up in business activity illustrated by the Everline Small Business Tracker is evidently stretching the capacity of small businesses. A shortage of skills is constraining the ability of businesses to expand their resources and as such decision-makers are being forced to take on responsibility for greater range of functions. While small business owners should be applauded for their dedication and hard work, it’s a shame that these qualities are being devoted to tasks such as administration rather than strategy and business development; areas that could translate into sustainable growth for the small business sector."

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