Weekends (or their equivalent) are the first thing to take a hit with small business owners working seven hours overtime each week on average, according to the latest poll.

The poll by accounting solutions provider MYOB, of more than 1000 small and mid-sized business owners, found 59% of local SMEs work more than 35 hours per week, with almost a quarter working over 45 hours, and 3% over 65 hours.

Ironically, considering the high amount of hours, 39% said “flexibility was their long-term goal, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle framework was far more attractive than financial benefits”.

MYOB General Manager SME Solutions James Scollay said the daily running of their business was hurting their business and lifestyle aspirations.

“Although so many SMEs start their business as a lifestyle choice prioritising flexibility, they are so overworked, they end up working almost six days per week, giving them no flexibility at all,” he said.

“And, it gets harder for SMEs during peak times such as end of financial year (EoFY). Our research suggests 37% of SMEs worked weekends to meet their recent EoFY demands, and 22% were working past midnight for the same reason.”

No time for growing your business

One of the key findings was that many SMEs want to grow the business, but almost half (46%) spend less than two hours or no time at all on anything outside the day-to-day operation. It was worse for sole traders, with that figure hitting more than 65%.

SMEs were also asked what they would do if they had more time to spend on their business. The most pressing are administrative followed by 23% wanting to learn more about the industry and do more training.

Others wanted to do more networking (27%), staff engagement activities (16%), or plan more growth (24%).

Understandably, when asked what they would do if they were given more time outside of the business, their top picks included spending more time with family and friends, and fitting in more leisure and relaxation.