Entrepreneurs in 2012 - Losing Sleep But Not Losing Hope


  • Optimism presides: Many more small businesses are optimistic than pessimistic despite tough times in the last year.
  • Working hard for new customers: A majority of small businesses in five out of six countries reported increases in new customers. The average working week for a small business owner is 42.8 hours, but Germans work nearly 8 hours longer per week, on average, than their US counterparts.
  • Stresses and strains: The downturn has brought more stress to 43% of small business owners, and 31% reported sleeping problems. More women reported stress, sleeplessness and health problems than men.
  • Eager but lacking language skills: Small businesses who had recruited school graduates gave them higher ratings for keenness and motivation than for language skills.
  • Few small businesses seek outside help: Only 22% of small businesses had turned to outside help from elected representatives and business groups – and those that did preferred a business organization or a local representative to a national politician.

NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A wide-ranging report published today gives a unique and revealing portrait of entrepreneurs in the USA and Europe as they cope with another year of economic crisis. Despite financial pressures, stresses and sleeplessness, they still have faith in their futures and maintain the determination to succeed.

Published today by Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, the fourth DNA of an entrepreneur study reports findings from a survey of 3,000 owners or partners in small and medium-sized businesses in six countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain.

Bronek Masojada, CEO at Hiscox, commented:

"Our fourth annual study of small businesses confirms what we know from working closely with them: they consider and manage a wide variety of local, national and global risks everyday while keeping faith in their values and ambitions. We hope that the insights in our study will help all those supporting small businesses make their essential contribution to economic recovery."

Key themes from the study:

Optimists outnumber pessimists

Although small businesses had experienced tough trading conditions, the study found 48% of respondents were optimistic about the year ahead for their business, compared to 27% who declared themselves pessimists and 26% who were unsure. The Spanish (28%) were the least optimistic, the Dutch (61%) the most, and the US (55%) was in the middle. In five of the six countries, a majority of respondents reported an increase in new customers: the leader was Germany (72%) followed by the USA (64%) and the Netherlands (62%). Across all countries, 75% of respondents hope to avoid layoffs in the year ahead or even recruit new employees, and 61% were not letting the Eurozone crisis affect their business plans (57% in the five EU countries). Only 20% of US small businesses reported their plans were changed by the Eurozone crisis. As many as 91% of all respondents found benefits from running a small business as compared to working in a large company.

Tight finances – but stable relationships with lenders

Forty-five percent of small businesses reported profit growth over the past 12 months (33% in Spain, 50% in the US). However, across all countries, 62% did not need to renegotiate borrowing terms from a lender, and 74% of those who had renegotiated had been partially or entirely successful.

Small business owners stressed but determined

Across all six countries, the average working week for leaders of small businesses was 42.8 hours, and 2.1 of those hours were spent complying with government regulation. The Germans put in the longest hours - 47.1 hours on average each week (2.7 hours on government regulation). The US had the second shortest average working week – 39.4 hours, with nearly two hours per week spent dealing with government regulations. Forty-three percent of all respondents said that the economic downturn had given them more stress (54% in Spain, 49% in the US), and 31% reported sleep problems due to increased worry. However, 30% said that the downturn had made them stronger and more determined to succeed, and 31% said that it had spurred them to work more efficiently.

New recruits – keen but not so good at languages

Among the small businesses across all six countries who had recruited new graduates last year, 63% gave them high ratings for keenness and motivation, 56% for reading and writing and 52% for basic arithmetic. However, only 41% rated them highly for speaking foreign languages (USA 33% and UK 26%).

A helping hand

Only 22% of small businesses across all countries had asked for outside help from business groups or elected representatives. Eleven percent had approached a business or small business organization, and 9% a local politician or mayor.

Hiscox specializes in insurance for small business owners, such as professional liability (errors and omissions insurance) and commercial general liability customized for a range of fields including IT, consulting, marketing, photography, real estate, beauty and health. Hiscox offers business insurance quotes direct and online in real-time along with other liability insurance products, such as business owners policies. Since launching their ground-breaking online service in the US in 2010, Hiscox has received an average customer service rating of 4.8 out of 5, and 96% of those surveyed would recommend Hiscox.

Notes to editors

Access the full eDNA 2012 report and read more news from Hiscox Small Business Insurance.

Link to infographic: http://www.hiscoxusa.com/small-business-insurance/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/2012-hiscox-dna-of-an-entrepreneur-infographic.jpg

Sample and methodology

Respondents were owners or partners of small businesses in the UK, USA, Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain. The businesses were predominantly service-based (79%). 92% were below $1.54 million in annual revenue, 61% $154,000 or below. 41% were one-person businesses and 73% had fewer than five employees. 56% of respondents were men, 44% women. 54% of respondents were aged 40-59, 35% under 40.

The research was conducted for Hiscox by The Survey Shop. The sample was drawn from online panels. 3,000 owners/partners took part between 17th-26th July 2012. Statistical accuracy: +/- 1% to +/- 1.5% for the whole sample of 3,000 and +/-2% to +/-4% for each country's sample of 500.

About Hiscox Small Business Insurance

Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). Hiscox is the first company in the U.S. to offer insurance for small professional services businesses direct, online, and in real-time. We provide professional liability, general liability and business owner's insurance, underwritten by Chicago-based Hiscox Insurance Company Inc., which is rated 'A' (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Additional information can be found on the Why Choose Hiscox? page. Coverages are subject to underwriting and may not be available in all states.

Hiscox also provides professional liability, property and specialty insurance to US businesses through US-based brokers. This communication does not constitute a solicitation of business by Hiscox's syndicates at Lloyd's, London.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=15096

CONTACT: Hunter Hoffmann (646) 442-8341 hunter.hoffmann@hiscox.com Katherine McGann for Hiscox USA (203) 254-1300 ext.249 kmcgann@prosek.com Chris Brown for Hiscox USA (212) 279-3115 ext.206 cbrown@prosek.comSource:Hiscox Insurance