One quarter of SME founders say it has affected their mental health

8% of SME founders have sought medical advice to help them deal with pressure

One quarter of British entrepreneurs say that growing their business has affected their mental health, and 8 per cent have sought medical advice.

According to a new study by investment advisory service Intelligent Partnership, 45 per cent of SME founders feel under extreme pressure to deliver.

Often boasting 20 per cent year-on-year growth and turnover increases – and hailed as British success stories — the survey reveals the terrible mental toll running an SME has on founders.

More than half of the 211 entrepreneurs surveyed say that building their business has been one of the toughest times in their lives.

Intelligent Partnership has launched a “Don’t Lose It” initiative to coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10 to help investors understand the pressure small business founders are under, often the businesses they are investing in, and together create a framework of best practice.

Michelle Morgan, founder of pyjama brand Pjoys, said: “I physically and mentally burnt out quite violently. It was easier to talk about periods and the loss of my fertility with my team and investors than my mental health.”

Another anonymous SME founder said he felt “mentally exhausted. Crying on kitchen steps. Saying to my wife, ‘if I die please tell the children how hard I worked’”.

One respondent added: “No one around me seemed bothered that I was silently struggling with my world, yet I knew if I ‘went down’ they would all be brought down with me.”

Nearly two third of SME owners (65 per cent) said that simply knowing that others were going through the same experience, and being able to talk to them, would have been most helpful during those darkest times.

Don’t Lose It will hold a series of workshops over the coming months, bringing together investors and entrepreneurs to explore the topic from both sides and create a framework for “mindful investment”.

Over a quarter (25 per cent) of founders say they would like to see more support from the investment community.

Guy Tolhurst, managing director of Intelligent Partnership, said that with investor cash increasingly available to SMEs, the runway to investment is shorter than ever, resulting in less emotionally resilient founders.

Tolhurst said: “Today, there’s more money sloshing around than ever before, just waiting to be ploughed into the next big idea, often run by entrepreneurs with little experience of the pressures ahead of them. Investors hand over a wad of cash and urge the founder not to lose it, but they should be advising the same with mental health in mind.”

Intelligent Partnership has partnered with BGF, London Stock Exchange Group, Smith & Williamson and The Clubhouse to set up a website, where entrepreneurs can share their stories.