Losing Sleep: Business Challenges Keep Almost A Third Of SMEs Up At Night

21 September 2023 – New research from Direct Line business insurance reveals SME decision makers are finding the current operating climate challenging, and it is impacting their health and wellbeing.

Losing sleep as a result of business challenges is affecting almost a third (29 per cent) of SME decision makers. The issue is particularly prevalent amongst small (10-49 employees) and micro (1-9 employees) businesses, with 40 per cent of small, and 37 per cent of micro business decision makers losing sleep.

In addition, more than one in five (22 per cent) SME decision makers say they are suffering from ill health because of the business pressures they are under. This rises to 27 per cent amongst micro and 30 per cent amongst small businesses. SME employers and employees have been working longer hours over the past year, with over half (54 per cent) stating they are working longer hours than in previous years, which could be contributing worsening health and wellbeing.


  • Almost a third (29 per cent) of SME decision makers are losing sleep over business challenges
  • More than one in five (22 per cent) suffer from ill health due to current business pressures
  • More than half (57 per cent) of SMEs say they are finding it harder to grow business revenue


For these firms the biggest concern is gaining new customers, with 29 per cent stating this is harder at present. This is being felt most acutely by sole traders (35 per cent) and micro (34 per cent) businesses.

Another significant challenge affecting SMEs in the current economic environment is generating enough revenue, with over a quarter (27 per cent) citing this as a concern. Sole traders are feeling the brunt of this challenge, with 38 per cent stating that making enough revenue was problematic.

In addition, rising operating costs are impacting SMEs, due in part to inflationary pressures, with a quarter (24 per cent) finding this an issue in terms of running their business effectively.

Being able to secure new financing for their business, in light of rising interest rates, is a concern for 45 per cent of the SMEs polled, while staying on top of existing loan repayments is also front of mind for over a third (38 per cent).

Alison Traboulsi, Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance commented:

“Running a small or medium sized enterprise can be challenging at the best of time, but this is being exacerbated by the current environment, particularly amongst small and micro businesses. It is concerning to see the impact on mental health and that so many SME decision makers are losing sleep as they lie awake worrying about their business operations.

“Direct Line business insurance policies come with Legal Essentials, a service which provides unlimited access to a team of DAS legal experts for confidential legal advice and access to a library of legal templates, tools, and guides to help SMEs run their business.

“The service also provides access to a Stress Counselling Helpline for policyholders, their employees, and their respective families. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. This confidential telephone counselling service provides SMEs with access to emotional support and can help with referrals to voluntary, self-help groups or professional services, as well as providing details of face-to-face counsellors in their area. Legal Essentials and the Stress Counselling Helpline are provided by DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Limited.

“The 24/7 helpline is available to provide advice on the laws of England and Wales. Advice involving other jurisdictions will be referred to specialist advisors, who are available 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, excluding bank holidays.”


For more information on Legal Essentials please visit:https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/small-business-insurance/legal-essentials


Further information about Direct Line business insurance’s SME cover can be found here:





(1) Opinium survey of 500 SME decision makers, conducted 9th-14th August 2023.


Direct Line Group

Unni Henry

PR Manager

Email: unni.henry@directlinegroup.co.uk



About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line business insurance and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line business insurance products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk


Contact Us

Give us a call or drop our team an email and we will contact you. We endeavour to answer all inquiries within 24 hours during business days.