Two thirds of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners are optimistic about the growth of their business over the next five years. In addition, nearly two thirds (62%) say that they are thriving as an individual due to owning their own business, according to a recent survey by AXA PPP healthcare.

SME owners recognised the greater flexibility (58%) and the greater freedom (37%) that owning a business gives them. Seventy per cent of owners also said they are proud, inspired, content or fortunate to own their own business, highlighting the positive effects that having control over your working life can bring.

Glen Parkinson, SME Business Director at AXA PPP healthcare, said: “It’s good to see SME owners flourishing as a result of having their own business. Coming into work feeling inspired or fortunate is a great motivator and helps productivity and creativity to blossom. And they are very positive about the future growth of their business, which is fantastic to see. The future looks bright for the UK’s SMEs, which is great news for the economy, as they are the backbone of our economic output.”

Trying to do it all

When asked what areas of the business they are involved in on a day to day basis, business strategy was the most common area, with 81% of owners being involved in this daily. However, 61% of owners also said they had day to day involvement in business operations and production and new business development (61%). More than half were involved in sales and marketing (59%) and customer service (55%) on a daily basis.

Striking the right work/life balance

More than a third (35%) of the SME business owners thought they could delegate more to improve the way they manage their business — a result that neatly aligns with the finding that nearly half (47%) of business owners reported that the pressure of work spills over into their home life. Despite this, many SME owners do manage to switch off from their work, with more than a third (36%) doing so by spending time with their family and, for over a fifth (22%), by taking exercise. But only 11% say they would go to the pub or have a drink to switch off from work. And nearly two thirds (63%) of owners reported feeling pressured only some of the time or not very often, suggesting they were getting the balance right.

Glen Parkinson said: “UK SME owners need to delegate more and only have daily involvement in those activities that truly need their expertise. Reducing their involvement in wider business activities and empowering their teams to do these tasks will help build trust and will hopefully prevent them from taking work pressure home. It is very encouraging to see small business owners are taking measures to achieve a reasonable work/life balance even through stressful periods.”