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Small business owners overworked but content

In a poll of more than 500 freelancers and small business owners carried out by accounting software firm FreeAgent, nearly a third of self-employed people say they work more than 48 hours per week on their business, and 6% admit to spending more than 64 hours each week working.

They also found that holidays were scarce for the self-employed, with nearly half of respondents saying they had not felt able to take a week or more’s worth of holiday in the past six months.

However despite the long hours and lack of holidays, the poll surprisingly found that many micro-business owners are actually content with their working life, with 74% saying that they feel they have a good work-life balance.

“Although many freelancers and micro-business owners enjoy more flexibility over when and where they can work, our research shows that they are actually likely to work just as many hours as people who are not self-employed – and sometimes a lot more,” says FreeAgent’s CEO Ed Molyneux.

“That’s because they have to manage all of the admin and behind-the-scenes parts of their business, not just the parts that they get paid for.”

For some self-employed people, running a business can also be so consuming that they don’t even manage to take a proper break, Molyneux adds.

“We found nearly half of the people we spoke to hadn’t felt able to take a week’s holiday in the past six months – which means they could potentially be risking fatigue through being overworked and, as a result, putting their businesses in jeopardy.

“With the right tools in place to help ease the admin burden, however, we believe that micro-business owners can spend less time on the fiddly parts of running their business and gain the confidence to take a holiday without feeling like they’re abandoning their work.”

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