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UK small business owners spend 4.8 billion hours a year both doing and worrying about finance admin

  • 29% of UK small business owners have mental block about finance admin
  • 28% claim to be entrepreneurial but not financially minded
  • More time spent worrying about finance admin than doing it (9 versus 7 hours/week)
  • A fifth claim to spend too much time on finance admin, 20% too little time
  • 26% put off setting up business for a while due to thought of finance admin
  • 56% still store paper receipts in an envelope or shoe box

New research released today reveals that UK small business owners spend on average 2.1 billion hours a year doing finance admin and even more time (2.1 billion hours) worrying about it – that’s 4.8 billion hours in total. The new findings from online bookkeeping and accounting firm, Osome, show how uncomfortable UK small business owners are with finance admin – almost 3 in 10 say they have a mental block about it; more than a quarter (28%) claim they are entrepreneurial but not financially minded.

To coincide with the launch of the new survey findings, Osome makes clear its ambition that no small business should have to spend any time addressing or worrying about finance admin.

Too much or too little time

The new research shows that, despite 44% of UK small businesses claiming that time spent on finance admin equates to profitability and success, none seem to be getting it right. A fifth (20%) say they spend too much time on finance admin, and the same amount say they dedicate too little time to it.

Of those who claim to spend too much time on it, 29% say this is because it’s important but admit they could be more efficient. Almost a quarter (23%) say it takes them longer as they don’t enjoy it. The main reasons for spending too little time on it are due to being too busy in the day and too tired at the end of the day to address it (36%) or because they don’t enjoy it (34%).

When is it being done?

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The findings show that the most popular approach to finance admin amongst UK small businesses owners is to juggle it with ongoing work (37%). Almost 2 in 10 (16%) do it at the weekends; more than 1 in 10 (11%) at the very last minute, such as before a tax deadline; 1 in 10, whenever they can grab a moment in busy day, e.g. while eating dinner; and 9% last thing at night after they’ve finished their other tasks.

Finance organisation and paperwork

The findings reveal the top four ways UK small business owners are storing and keeping track of receipts, with only 13% using a software system and the top four slots taken up by more old fashioned systems:

How do you store/track receipts? Percentage
1.      I keep hard copies in an envelope or shoe box 56%
2.                In an Excel spreadsheet 33%
3.                A mixture of paper/online receipts – they are all over the place 28%
4.                I use a software system 13%

The research also reveals the stress that is brought about from organising finances – more than a quarter (26%) say that paperwork, filing and organsiation are the most stressful parts of running a business that are most likely to eat into downtime. The same amount also claims they were put off setting up their business for a while due to the stress  involved in doing their own paperwork and organising their finances.

Says Alexey Potemkin, UK Managing Director of Osome: “Our findings reveal the struggle many UK small businesses are facing when it comes to finance admin – from eating into their downtime to feeling stressed about paperwork. That’s why our pledge is that no small business should spend any time on finance admin – either doing  it or worrying about it!

“Our one-stop shop solution has everything under one roof – from bookkeeping and accounting to filing taxes and providing insights into how to grow the business. Unlike other accounting software providers, our unique approach is to combine machine learning and complex algorithms with humans, automating everything that can be automated, but giving each  customer their own dedicated Chartered Accountant and bookkeeper, who do the rest. This results in a super speedy and efficient service – from answering fast in Chat, to reconciling transactions daily and reporting balances in real time – but with the personal, human touch when needed.

“Crucially, we remove the boring burden of finance admin from small businesses so they can concentrate on what’s important and what they do best – sustainably growing their business.”

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