By Astrid Hall

Maintaining a social life, taking time off for holidays and dating are among the hardest things about starting your own business, a study found.

Establishing your business in the marketplace, working weekends and believing in yourself also appeared among the challenges when finally making the decision to ‘go out on your own’.

The fear of failing, not having as much disposable income, managing finances and being able to drive the recruitment for their business also proved difficult for many of the 500 entrepreneurs polled.

The study was commissioned by Virgin Money to celebrate the launch of their SME savings account ( to help young businesses thrive.

Hugh Chater, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Money said: “From start-up, to scaling up and then staying ahead, there’s nothing easy about running your own business.

“Balancing the books, the relentless admin, sorting problems that come out of left field and finding balance in everyday life – are just some of the challenges for many SME owners.

“What really shines through from our research however, is that the freedom and fulfilment of running and growing your own business outweighs any trials and tribulations faced.

“Ultimately, hard work delivers its own satisfaction, enjoyment and reward and 98 per cent of people who run their own business said they wouldn’t have it any other way.”

One entrepreneur confessed the hardest thing about flying solo was getting your friends to understand why you couldn’t come out for dinner.

Others explained how they risked it all to give up a well-paid, safe job to venture into the unknown.

Nearly one-fifth of those polled said they worked a minimum of 13-hours every day in their first year of setting up their business, with seven per cent slaving away for 16 hours or more every day.

Researchers also found over half of SME’s funded their businesses themselves, with 46 per cent sourcing their capital through other means in order to get off the ground.

Bank loans, redundancy payments and financial support from family members were the most popular sources for additional funding.

The study also found start-ups need an average of £16,309 in order to take-off, with an average loss of £9,420 in the first year for those in the red.

However, over half believe that hard work does pay off, with many seeing profits of nearly £7,000 in their first year of launching.

It’s no surprise a number of business owners are reaping rewards within their first year, with half stating they sought after advice when starting their company.

More than a quarter asked for the expertise from another entrepreneur, with an equal percentage getting insight from the bank or a friend.

And three in 10 wished they always had someone on hand to go to for financial advice when launching their enterprise.

Despite the majority agreeing that starting a business is no easy feat; ninety-eight per cent agreed they enjoy having their own business.

In fact, more than eight in 10 said being your own boss is one of the best things about launching your own company, with 58 per cent stating it is more rewarding.

Being in control of your career, expanding your network and building your character also featured as benefits of starting from scratch.

Hugh Chater added: “While it can be difficult setting up your own business, it’s great to see the enjoyment and rewards that can come to those who are successful.

“With many SME owners not having time to shop around for the best deals for their finances, Virgin Money is committed to supporting small businesses earn an attractive return on their savings.”

Top 30 challenges about starting a business:

1. Taking time off/holidays

2. Working long hours

3. Not having as much disposable income

4. Striking a work-life balance

5. Working weekends

6. Getting customers

7. Dealing with the admin

8. Making a name for yourself and the business

9. Never being able to switch off

10. Spending time with family

11. Ensuring accounts are up to date

12. Completing admin

13. Believing in yourself

14. Taking work home

15. Spending time with your partner

16. Finding time for hobbies/other interests

17. Managing finances more effectively

18. Socialising with friends

19. Having patience

20. Staying motivated

21. Finding/hiring employees

22. Being able to deal with problems

23. Being able to foresee problems

24. Networking/meeting people

25. Legal work

26. Understanding jargon such as P&L, Net Profit, Gross profit etc.

27. Writing up a five-year plan

28. Dating/meeting new people

29. Family/partner trusting you when you promise the venture would be a success

30. Being generally more organized

To embed the quiz, please see: are_you_an_entrepreneur_quiz_embed_instructions (1)


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