Paperwork piling up on small businesses

Daily tasks preventing firms' progress - report

Small business owners are working so hard to keep their firm going and comply with red tape that they don’t have time to properly develop their enterprise, according to a new report.

The research, undertaken by Barclays, found that the average entrepreneur spent 16 hours a week on administration, four hours dealing with regulatory requirements and just eight hours on actually developing their business.

Barclays revealed that around one in ten of those questioned spent no time at all building up their business.

The most time-consuming tasks for respondees included IT management, payroll, invoicing for accounts, health and safety and complying with legal requirements.

Barclays found that small business owners spend a far larger proportion of their time on ‘core activities’ and less time on development than larger firms.

The study found that the ideal week for the average entrepreneur would involve two hours less on both administration and core business activity with the extra time spent on business development such as marketing and new product testing.

According to the study, small business owners worked, on average, 63 hours a week, nearly 60 per cent longer than the average full-time employee, who spends just 37.5 hours a week in the workplace.

Entrepreneurs in the South West worked the longest week in the UK, with the average small firm owner spending 70 hours a week on his or her business.

Other findings in the survey included:

  • 40 per cent of business owners who use the internet do not work on the weekend, compared to just 23 per cent who are not connected to the web.
  • Internet users also appear to work less – those with access worked an average of 61.7 hours, while those not on the net spent an average of 65.6 hours.
  • The main two reasons given by entrepreneurs on why working hours cannot be reduced were that they wanted to remain in control and that no-one else would be able to undertake their tasks.
  • If entrepreneurs had an extra hour each day, two thirds of them would spend it on leisure.  

                                                              Grant Phillips, of Barclays, said that small business owners have to work extremely hard to succeed.

“They often feel they are the only person who can take on a task, have difficulty developing decisions and get bogged down in minutiae.

“Making use of technology and speaking to their banker and accountant can help entrepreneurs identify ways of reducing this burden to free up their time for activities such as attracting customers or developing the business.

“After all, no-one starts a business because they want to chase invoices or count stock,” he said.

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