One in 10 small business owners contemplating suicide

Small business owners cite cashflow problems, trying to meet COVID-19 workplace guidelines and late payments as biggest factors affecting mental health

One in 10 small business owners in Britain are considering suicide, according to their accountants, in their latest snapshot of SMEs.

Eleven per cent of small business owners are thinking of ending it all, overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, while 78 per cent of SME owners have worse mental health, according to research from chartered accountants’ group ACCA and The Corporate Finance Network (CFN).

And 89 per cent of accountants say that their small business clients are generally under more stress.

>See also: Nearly half of small businesses do not intend to repay government loans

The ACCA survey shows how the coronavirus pandemic has affected small business owners’ mental health, driving many of them to consider suicide. On top of spiralling debt and a cratered economy, many independent retailers have the prospect of the next quarter day commercial property rental payment looming on June 24, despite their shops not having been open for the past three months.

Thousands of small businesses say they are firefighting immediate concerns such as cashflow pressures and resuming operations safely ahead of lockdown lift.

The biggest three fears of small businesses, according to their accountants, are being able to manage cashflow pressures, implementing social distancing guidelines at work, and late payment of invoices.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of small businesses say they are going to run out of money within two weeks if lockdown continues unchanged.

Fourteen per cent said they are going to run out of money if lockdown goes unchanged for another four weeks.

And 5 per cent of small businesses say they plan to go out of business.

ACCA and CFN’s Weekly SME Health Tracker surveyed accountancy practitioners advising 1,800 small businesses.

>See also: Coronavirus government Statutory Sick Pay – how to apply for it

Financial cost of coronavirus

Meanwhile, a separate report by small business insurer Simply Business, estimates the financial cost of coronavirus to SMEs in the UK will exceed £69bn.

COVID-19 has cost the average small business £11,779 in lost work and earnings. With over 5.8m SMEs in the UK accounting for over 99 per cent of all businesses, that puts the cost of coronavirus at over £69bn.

Not only that, but two fifths (41 per cent) of small business owners fear their business is at risk of permanently closing due to the pandemic.

Four per cent of those surveyed said they have already permanently ceased trading – suggesting that over 234,000 small businesses have already closed as a direct result of the pandemic.

If your mental health has been affected by trying to run a small business during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many organisations offering support such as Samaritans or Maytree. The Federation of Small Businesses also offers FSB Care mental health support for members

Further reading

New entrants to be stopped from joining the jobs furlough scheme

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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