A recent study by iwoca highlights the mental and physical challenges SME owners can face when starting a business.

The most common physical/mental challenge being “loss of sleep”, which affected one in six (16%) respondents.

Experiencing a non-existent work-life balance was also felt by 15 percent of respondents.

Also, 14 percent of respondents said their mental health and wellbeing have been affected, with 11 percent also reporting that their physical health and wellbeing are affected.


The majority of SME owners do not achieve their short-term goals

The report also highlights that almost two-thirds (60%) of SME owners did not achieve their short-term goals within their initial time frame and budget.

The survey reveals that over two-fifths (44%) of SME owners who said they needed extra time to complete their initial goals took on average 7-12 months longer to do so.

“Focus in business is extremely important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will go to plan or exactly how you set out as part of your original strategy. As Accountants, our job is to help this process and make sure the business owners we work with continue to evolve and maintain their focus whilst remembering why they started in the first place,” says Founder of accountancy firm Kinder Pocock, Sharon Pocock.

“Make sure the business is working for you, not you working for the business,” adds Ms Pocock.

The survey also reveals that long-term goals often (in 50% of cases) took at least 13 more months than expected to achieve.

In order to combat this, 17 percent of business owners reduced their short-term goals in order to achieve them within their initial time frame and budget.

Furthermore, 22 percent said they had to increase their budget to achieve their goals.


Three quarters of SMEs shifted direction in some way

iwoca’s survey also revealed that 75 percent of SME owners said the direction of their business had changed in some way since their original plan.

Moreover, when reflecting on their original business plans, 17 percent of SME owners decided to entirely change the direction of their business.

Since this full change in direction, 67 percent of these SME owners now have an annual turnover of £500,000+, and 18 percent have an annual turnover of over £1 million.

Changing the business plan is not the only way in which business owners said things did not go as expected.


The importance of goal setting

iwoca spoke to life coach and therapist, Danny Greeves, about the importance of realistic goal setting: “Setting achievable goals is fundamental to staying motivated and focused on achieving your business dreams. When we set a realistic goal and achieve it, our brain gives us a burst of the feel-good chemical dopamine. On the other hand, when we set an unrealistic goal…we begin to accumulate evidence that we cannot do what we set out to do, this increases self-doubt and leads to the self-image shrinking.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.