It may not always be a match made in heaven, but UK bosses are in it for the long haul when it comes to running their own company, according to a survey of small business owners conducted by Barclays Local Business (1) The research reveals that over a quarter (28 per cent) expect to run their business for more than 25 years (longer than the average marriage in the UK at 24 years, or 11.6 years if it ends in divorce(2)) and one in five said they plan to keep working well into their seventies.
As well as being wedded to the job, UK bosses are forming long-term and loyal relationships with their staff. Despite the popular belief that a ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past, nearly a third (29 per cent) of those questioned have an employee on the books who has worked for them for at least ten years and two thirds of respondents still employ their first ever recruit.
John Davis, marketing director for Barclays Local Business said: “Starting your own business is a serious commitment and for most people it really is about a life long relationship that needs constant nurturing and attention. For every over night success there are thousands of business people who have spent years developing a successful business - but there are few things as satisfying as making it a success after all that effort.”
Given this propensity for long term commitment, it is no surprise that bosses are quite literally ‘married to the job’. Two fifths admit feeling personally connected to their business, and said its failure would cause emotions akin to a relationship ending.
Although women were more likely to be affected by ‘business bereavement’ when a company fails, the survey showed that when it comes to their staff, male entrepreneurs are more sentimental than their female counterparts. On average, male bosses employed their first recruit for approximately a year longer than female bosses, while their longest serving employees typically clocked up a year longer on the payroll.
The survey also revealed that entrepreneurs who value stability in their personal life are more likely to replicate it in the workplace. Respondents who had been in relationships for more than twenty years tended to employ their first recruits for nearly eight years - two and a half years longer than the national average. Their longest standing employees also remained employed for more than nine years – fifty per cent longer that the national average of six and a half years.
The survey also revealed:
- The average length of employment for an organisation’s first recruit was 5.3 years
- Average length of employment was highest in Scotland at just under six years
- Retention levels for the longest standing employee were highest in the South East at just under nine years. This figure drops to five years in London
- Entrepreneurs in the East and West Midlands tend to employ their first recruit for longer – approximately six years. The average length of employment for a first recruit was lowest in London at around four years
- Average length of employment tended to be higher when the owner was male rather than female
Despite growing concern about an economic downturn, confidence among the small business community remains strong, as three quarters (74 per cent) say they are keen to grow their business this year. Of those that felt growth was not an option, a quarter cited the risks currently posed by the economic climate while nearly one in five (19 per cent) said they simply had no interest in making more money – suggesting it is a love of their business rather than their bank statement which gets entrepreneurs out of bed in the morning.
Notes to editors:
Local case studies are available on request.
1. Taken from research carried out by Ciao Surveys on behalf of Barclays Local Business Banking. Total sample size was 503 SME owner-managers from across the UK, where a SME is defined as having up to 250 employees. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1 and 16 June 2008. The survey was carried out online.
2. National Statistics and the National Family and Parenting Institute.
Barclays Local Business offers a comprehensive range of tailored business banking products to more than 600,000 businesses typically with a turn over less than £1 million. We support businesses with:
- 1600 local business managers in 600 locations
- Start-ups get standard banking transactions free for up to 12 months.
- Flexibility to bank when and how they want - online and telephone banking and a full counter service at 1600 branches nationwide
- In the longer term businesses can choose various banking packages which give a choice of free automated payments or in credit interest. These packages also include different levels of further support from online training to credit management facilities.