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More than 50% of trade business owners rely on spouses to run their company

Business admin is most popular duty to delegate, but many partners are unpaid for their labour

Entrepreneurs across the country are employing a cheap form of labour to start and grow their businesses: the goodwill of their spouse or partner. That is according to research by Direct Line for Business (DL4B), which surveyed small trade businesses employing less than five people, with an average annual turnover of around £124,000. More than half (51%) of the business owners polled relied on their spouse or partner to help run their company. The most common activity to delegate was general business administration (46%), while 19% asked their partners to act as their receptionist and 14% sought assistance with legal and accounting services. However, a further 8% of business owners relied on their partner to undertake sales, marketing and new business generation activities – despite nearly a third admitting they do not pay their partner anything for their labour. The average amount of time spouses dedicated to assisting their partner’s business was two days a week (although 25% gave three days or more) – yet 65% juggled this with employment elsewhere. Indeed, one in four held down another full-time job, and 39% worked part-time for another business. Jazz Gakhal, head of DL4B said: “Small businesses are crucial in re-energising the UK economy. It is therefore, heartening to see partners working together to help sustain these small companies, despite not being fully financially compensated and in many cases not paid at all. “It is clear that small trade businesses are seeking voluntary help from their partners to avoid high legal, secretarial or IT support fees, but it is vital that these businesses ensure their partners are adequately covered in event of an accident.”

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