Third of business owners “don’t enjoy” being a leader

A majority (51 per cent) described their work/life balance as only “okay” with 35 per cent labelling it good and 12 per cent very good. Some 51 per cent of business owners are working more than 50 hours a week with 4 per cent working as many as 80 hours.

Almost a quarter said their business was currently either “treading water” or “declining slightly” with 51 per cent more upbeat claiming they were “growing slightly” and 25 per cent even more bullish saying their company was “growing rapidly”.

Looking ahead, only 4 per cent of owners were “very optimistic” about the prospects for the UK economy in the next 2-3 years.

Three quarters ranked having a “strategic vision” as the single most important skill in running a business, with building a strong team the second most important attribute and sustaining focus the third vital skill.

Asked what they felt they were best at, 41 per cent said strategy, 31 per cent opted for managing people, 14 per cent said sales, 10 per cent marketing and just 4 per cent financial management.

Asked who they most admired in business, a quarter said Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson, 8 per cent opted for former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy while 5 per cent chose Sir Alan Sugar. Many other business leaders received single mentions including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, retail bosses Sir Stuart Rose and Justin King, golfer Jack Nicklaus and former Dragons Den star James Caan. The only women leaders to receive a mention were Dame Anita Roddick, the late founder of the Body Shop, and Chrissie Rucker, who launched The White Company.

The survey of 600 business leaders was carried out by The Leadership Team, which provides leadership development for chief executives, managing directors and directors from the region’s foremost companies.

Jerry Hopkins, founder of The Leadership Team, said: “The survey’s findings show that many business owners are finding life tough and lonely at the top in the present economic climate and the majority see either no change or things getting worse over the next couple of years.

“However, it is also clear that business owners believe that having a strong vision, being able to maintain focus in difficult conditions and building a strong team around them will be hugely important in determining just how successful they are over the coming years.”