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Money doesn't buy happiness for Kiwi SMEs

James Henderson | Oct. 2, 2014
The majority of New Zealand's operators are happy with their work/life balance, but many will experience ups and downs over the course of their business life.

Small is better, and money doesn't buy happiness

"Although we might picture a sole trader as having to do everything in the business, and therefore finding little time to have a life, it seems the more staff an SME takes on, the more pressure the operator faces," Gardiner adds.

Sole traders (0 employees) report the best work/life balance, with 55% satisfied and 24% dissatisfied.

Micro business operators (1-5 employees) are more likely to be unhappy with the balance they can achieve (31%), while just over half (51%) are happy. For operators of Small Businesses (6-19 employees) work/life balance is particularly hard to find, with satisfaction levels low (39% satisfied, 27% dissatisfied).

SME operators also appear to be trading off higher earnings for other areas of their life, according to the research. Satisfaction is highest amongst operators earning between $40,000 and $74,000 (59%), followed by those with revenue between $75,000 and $199,000 (53%).

Higher earning businesses with between $200,000 and $999,000 annual revenue make it harder for the operator to enjoy a satisfying work/life balance (47%), while operators of businesses earning between $1 - $5 million are least likely to find time to enjoy life (39% satisfaction).

Better life outside the big cities

While their big city colleagues may earn more, business operators outside the main centres enjoy a significantly better quality of life. Only Manawatu / Wanganui bucks the trend, with operators reporting the country's worst work/life balance. By contrast neighbouring Hawkes Bay, on the East Coast, boasts the country's best balance for SME operators.

Wellington — with the least revenue growth of the main centres — is the best city in the country for achieving the ideal balance, while Christchurch business operators report the lowest levels of satisfaction as the city's rebuild puts massive growth pressure on the region.


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