Stress levels for business owners are at an all-time high and most believe that hording cash is a better strategy than investing in the business.

Benjamin Tomkins, Contributor

March 22, 2010

3 Min Read

Stress levels for business owners are at an all-time high and most believe that hording cash is a better strategy than investing in the business.With so much government talk about relaxing lending for small businesses, one might think that the pressure on small business owners is waning. Yet according to the results from two recent surveys, business owners are more stressed out than ever and resorting to literally and metaphorically stashing cash under their mattresses.

Based on the findings of a survey conducted by the accounting firm Grant Thornton International , 56% of business leaders in privately held companies believe their stress levels have increased in the past year. The great recession is the leading contributor to the raised anxiety level with 38% citing economic conditions, but cash flow (26%), competitor activities (21%), and excessive workloads (19%) also ranked highly.

Though the economic crisis may be global, the stress levels of business owners are not uniform around the world. The Grant Thornton survey included 7,400 businesses in 36 countries and found that the stress levels of U.S. business owners ranked right in the middle and significantly behind the stress leaders China, Mexico, Turkey, Vietnam, and Greece. The survey index average with 56 with the U.S. slotting in at 50 (China tallied 76). As to where the business owner karma is the most friendly look to Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Australia, and Canada - all ranked under 40 on the index with the two Scandinavian leaders in the 20s.

Despite the indications that it could be more anxious overseas, another set of recent findings from the Brother Small Business Survey indicate stress levels for business owners at an all time high with 51% saying they've never been more stressed out and 48% claiming they think about their business while trying to fall asleep. Some of that stress may be attributable to long hours -- 65% believe they put in longer hours than they would If working for someone else. Stress or not, half still prefer the flexibility of working for themselves and 35% claim to enjoy pursuing their passion.

The phone survey was conducted for Brother in January by Wakefield Research and surveyed 500 U.S. small business owners.

In addition to the nail biting and job satisfaction issues, the other key finding of the Brother survey was that 53% believe hoarding cash is a better strategy for surviving the current economic crisis than investing in the business. Other findings from the survey include:

  • 79% of small business owners will strive to make their company more efficient this year.

  • 15% say they would give up 10 percent of their company in exchange for a guarantee that they'd be protected from negative economic effects in 2010.

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