What it’s like to be a small business owner in South Africa

South African small and medium business owners contribute as much as 10% – or nearly R530 billion – to the annual GDP, by working beyond the standard industry hours for their businesses.

According to a new global survey by accounting, payroll and payment systems provider, Sage, the world’s small and medium business sector has added R115 trillion ($8.3 trillion) to the global economy through after-hours work.

A sample of 200 small business owners in South Africa found that some 51% of respondents work more than 40 hours a week and 22% work more than 50 hours a week.

Around 44% of local business owners have chosen their work over their family and 26% have taken less than five days holiday in the last year.

A quarter admits that their personal relationships have been affected while making their business successful, but 29% say it was worth it.

Half of respondents in South Africa compromise taking holidays in order to make their business successful; 45% compromise their social life, and 37% compromise their own health.

Why do they do it?

More than half (51%) say they are motivated by the love of their business, with 59% motivated by the sense of achievement, 60% by growing the business, and 58% by making money.

Some 77% say that working outside their industry standard hours to make their business successful is worthwhile.

Paperwork is the bane of many South African entrepreneurs’ lives: 35% say that more efficient administrative processes would reduce the time spent working after hours.

Time management is another challenge, with 33% saying that understanding how to use their time more efficiently would reduce the time spent working after hours.

On the upside, 64% feel smartphone emailing reduces the time spent working after hours.

More on business in South Africa

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SA businesses could be forced to pay a 1% ‘graduate tax’

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What it’s like to be a small business owner in South Africa