Over 73 per cent of business owners admit to having felt lonely whilst running their company, with a third saying that this is how they feel on a regular basis, according to new research launched today by Ultimate Finance, the independent funding partner to SMEs.

Loneliness has recently been identified as potentially fatal, with lonely people 30 per cent more likely to suffer from a stroke or heart disease (two of the leading causes of death in Britain), according to a study by the University of York.

As well as suffering from loneliness, three-quarters of UK small and medium sized enterprise (SME) owners also said they did not know where to turn to for support, suggesting that the business community is not benefiting from the recent increase in mental health awareness and services in the UK.

There is evidence that the issue of loneliness is being compounded by a lack of advice for SMEs looking to grow, with 60% of small business owners also stating that there is not enough support in the UK for SMEs looking to expand.

Alongside current economic uncertainties, business owners’ concerns about meeting customers’ needs, business strategy, access to funding and maintaining a healthy cashflow are leading to a huge amount of pressure within SMEs, particularly among those striving to grow and succeed.

Steve Noble, Chief Operating Officer at Ultimate Finance commented:

“It’s hugely concerning to hear how wide spread loneliness is in the business community. I talk to business owners every day, and this research backs up what I already know – that they are feeing stressed and isolated. Although these feelings can be an unavoidable reality of running a company, it’s clear that more help should be available.

“SMEs are a hugely valuable part of UK society, not only boosting the economy but contributing an enormous amount to local communities. We need to start taking better care of our business community and supporting the leaders who are working around the clock to succeed.”

Business psychologist Robert Stewart added: “I find business leaders often take on a huge amount of responsibility and can struggle to maintain a personal and professional balance in life. It’s really positive to see research that highlights this issue and I would encourage the business community to come together in order to create a better network for SMEs experiencing these challenges.”

Business owner and founder of Vivid Drinks James Shillcock, commented: “In the first couple of years of running my own business, I was working incredibly long hours. I put a lot of pressure on myself and without a team you can quickly feel isolated. Asking for support or advice shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness – it’s important to keep talking to your network; employees, family and friends about how you’re feeling.

“Isolation and lack of support can stop you performing at your best, which has a knock-on effect on your employees and business. Entrepreneurs have to be proactive but there should be more support available to founders who want it.”

To support these efforts, Ultimate Finance will be creating its own information hub with guidance from health experts and insights from experienced SME owners to support those in need of help. It will also include links to further wellbeing resources including: