The biggest sacrifices made when starting a business

iwoca’s inaugural Small Business Insights survey shows that more women may have sacrificed pay than men when starting a company.

By iwoca on 08/08/2019

Sacrifice article | hero image

According to our new research project, not being paid is the biggest sacrifice UK SME owners have to make when running their business. Overall, 37% of those surveyed felt they'd given up pay in some form since starting their venture.

The survey also exposed a potential difference in experiences of men and women. The inaugural iwoca Small Business Insights survey suggests that more women may have sacrificed pay than men when starting a company – with nearly half of all female business owners (46 pecent) surveyed saying they'd foregone earnings, compared to just 34 percent of their male counterparts.

The results also show that a quarter of all respondents had sacrificed time spent with family or a partner. However, more men felt they had given up time with family (28 percent) than women (18 percent).

The findings are from our recent customer survey which looks at the biggest sacrifices made by SME owners, as well as analysing what business owners would change if they had the choice, and asking the best thing about starting a business.

The sacrifices

“You have to do without if you’re working with a limited budget, as most entrepreneurs or start-ups are doing,” says Sharon McGillion, iwoca customer and founder of Pressie Pouch, a company selling self-sealing gift wrap pouches. “You put any extra funds back into your business in order to launch a product, with no expensive holidays or extravagant spending allowed. I have a teenage son and he’s my main priority; if he wants he gets, and I do without. I keep him posted every day on developments in the business, and we’ve had to sacrifice luxuries to make it work.”

McGillion continues, “I battled on despite the tough financial challenge, because I believed in myself and I believed in my product. Recently, I shipped my first consignment to the USA as we are soon to be listed on Amazon. The American market is presenting many opportunities now. As a result of my work with US partners, I am now a product scout for consumer goods, sourcing products that potentially could be sold in the USA, Canada and beyond - all because I just did not give up.”

Colin Goldstein, Commercial Growth Director at iwoca, added: “We all expect to make sacrifices when starting a company. Whether it’s spending less time with loved ones, reduced work-life balance or taking fewer holidays, you’d struggle to find a business owner who hasn’t had to forgo something in the early days.”

What would you change?

Almost two in five (37 percent) respondents wished they’d made better use of credit facilities to help their business grow. Late payments, which often lead to cash flow problems, remains one of the key pain-points that small businesses would like to change (23 percent). However, a quarter of male business owners saw this as an issue, compared to just 16 percent of female business owners.

Having better tools to promote their business was the third most popular option, with 13 percent citing getting better at marketing and PR as being something they’d to change.

Would you do it all again?

Despite the sacrifices and knowing what they know now, an overwhelming 90 percent of small business owners would do it all again and start a business. This leaves one in ten saying that given the time again, they'd pursue a different path.