Owner-managers face 'regulatory trap'

OWNERS of small and medium businesses in the east work about 21 hours longer each week than the average employee, according to a survey.Research carried out by Barclays found that entrepreneurs in the East of England work an average of 58.

OWNERS of small and medium businesses in the east work about 21 hours longer each week than the average employee, according to a survey.

Research carried out by Barclays found that entrepreneurs in the East of England work an average of 58.1 hours, compared to an average working week of 37.4 hours.

Overall, it found owners of SMEs across the UK worked 24 hours a week more than the average.

But more and more owners are drawing a line at letting work eat into their weekends, with 43% of business owners saying they will not work weekends, compared to 36% in 2003.

Tony Reynolds, the eastern region local business director at Barclays said long hours have always been a bi-product of running your own business.

“But it does seem that over the last couple of years business owners are making conscious decisions to keep the long hours to Monday to Friday wherever possible, whilst allowing time for leisure, family and friends at the weekends,” he said.

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The survey found that red tape was becoming an increasing burden to businesses, with entrepreneurs spending an average of 15 hours a week on administration. Six out of 10 felt regulation was a barrier to doing business, particularly in larger SMEs.

“Many entrepreneurs are caught in a 'regulatory trap', too big to manage regulations on their own, but not big enough to employ others to ease the burden. Dealing with seemingly endless red tape is often at the expense of spending time on other priorities, such as business and product development,” said Mr Reynolds.

But businesses which adopt new technologies, such as online banking, can enjoy shorter working weeks, says Barclays.

Owners see a desire to retain control (51%) and the lack of anyone else able to undertake the task (67%) as the main barriers to reducing their working week.