Media releasePublished on 16 June 2022

Australians who run their own small business forgo up to 43 days of personal time annually

Xeroʼs latest ʻEmotional Tax Returnʼ survey finds small business stress high, but improving

Melbourne — 16 June, 2022 —Xero, the global small business platform, today released the latest findings of its survey into the emotional impacts of running a small business. The survey found that many Australians who run a small business say it causes stress (64%), takes time away from friends and family (63%), and impacts their health and wellbeing (66%).

Conducted by Lonergan Research on behalf of Xero, the report surveyed more than 500 Australian small business leaders, including those who own or manage their business with fewer than 20 employees. According to the research, overtime invested into running a small business is eating away at important personal time for two-thirds (66%) of respondents.

The average Australian running a small business loses 19.8 hours a week, or 43 days each year, that had been redirected from other priorities in their personal lives. Up from 15.2 last year, this comprises of time that would otherwise be spent: with family (3 hours), socialising (2.9 hours), on hobbies (2.7 hours), sleeping (3.2 hours), on health (2.7 hours), relaxing (3.3 hours) or on odd jobs and chores (2.7 hours).

Emotional toll lessens compared to 2021

Despite the ongoing effects of the pandemic and emerging business challenges like inflation, however, fewer say they are stressed or suffering from stress side effects – indicating the emotional toll is lessening. In response to the survey findings, Xero has launched its Emotional Tax Return competition today, for the second year running, in which Australian small businesses can submit a claim for an emotional expense of running their business for a chance to win.

Running your own business comes with hidden costs most of us canʼt see – the emotional tax.

Joseph Lyons Managing Director, Australia and Asia

Joseph Lyons, Managing Director of Australia and Asia, Xero, said: “Running your own business comes with hidden costs most of us canʼt see – the emotional tax. From time taken away from family and friends to lack of sleep, small business leaders make big sacrifices to keep things afloat. This year Iʼm relieved to see stress levels have decreased as the impact of the pandemic subsides.”

“However, that doesnʼt mean small businesses arenʼt in need of some respite. Thatʼs why weʼre bringing our Emotional Tax Return competition back for a second year and hoping to help Australians make up for some of these unexpected taxes on their life over the past year,” said Lyons.

Despite the emotional costs of running a business, most small business leaders (85%) wouldnʼt have it any other way; three quarters (74%) say they canʼt imagine living a different life.

Romance fizzles, not sizzles, for those running a small business

Love isnʼt in the air for those in charge of small businesses. This year, not only do more people report not remembering their last date night (30% in 2022 vs 25% in 2021) but one in eight surveyed (13%) havenʼt been on a date for at least 12 months.

Meanwhile, a quarter say the demands of their business leave them with fewer opportunities for intimacy. For the half of respondents that say running a business impacts their sex life, one in five (20%) say this is due to decreased libido and 14 per cent report having less time to spend looking for love.

For those in a relationship, their partner also feels the impact of this stress – two in five (41%) of those who run a small business have had to skip an anniversary, date night, or even their birthday (10%) due to work pressures. To make up for these missed occasions, Australians who run a small business spend an average of $119 on gifts a year for their partner.

Even their pets are being asked for forgiveness as small business leaders spend close to $50 ($45) on gifts per year to buy their furry forgiveness.

Holidays are on hold, with little time to rest and relax

Small business leaders make a lot of sacrifices, but holidays are the most likely to go. Based on the survey, half (50%) have sacrificed a family holiday – having cancelled, missed or postponed one – and a quarter (24%) have delayed a family trip. While 13 per cent havenʼt been able to refresh with a holiday longer than a week in over five years.

This year, twice as many respondents donʼt remember the last time they had a holiday as in 2021 (13% vs 6%). Given small business owners and managers are reallocating three hours of relaxation a week, on average, to work, many are in need of a good break.

Stress takes a toll on appearance, wellbeing

The ongoing stress of running a business has taken a toll, according to the report. The most common symptoms of stress are exhaustion (33%) and sleepless nights (32%), as well as more physical effects like headaches (26%) and weight change (15%). Around one in four (26%) report follicular damage, with either greying hair (14%) or hair loss (12%).

Meanwhile, two in five (40%) think running a business has sped up their ageing process, making them look or feel older than they are. Despite these reported ill effects, around half (46%) of those who run a small business say theyʼve had to miss out on a healthcare appointment due to work demands – leaving little time to take care of their health and wellbeing.

Emotional Tax Return competition allows small business owners to claim unwelcome expenses of running a business

Launched today, the Emotional Tax Return competition is back, helping small businesses to do beautiful business this end of financial year. They can enter the competition by heading to, and submitting a response to the following question: ʻIn 75 words or less, what's the number one emotional expense you're claiming for this EOFY and tell us why you deserve to win a prize.ʼ


Media Contacts

Xero Australia | Sophie McCullen | 0435 913 863 |

About Xero

Xero is a global small business platform with 3.3 million subscribers which includes a core accounting solution, payroll, workforce management, expenses and projects. Xero also provides access to financial services, and an ecosystem of more than 1,000 connected apps and more than 300 connections to banks and other financial institutions. Through Xeroʼs open platform, small businesses can connect to a range of solutions that help them run their business and manage their finances. For three consecutive years (2020-2022) Xero was included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. In 2021, Xero was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), powered by the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment. Xero has been named as a FIFA Womenʼs Football partner under FIFAʼs new commercial structure.

About the survey:

The research was commissioned by Xero and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan Research surveyed 548 Small Business Leaders. Surveys were distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and non-capital city areas. The survey was conducted online amongst members of a permission-based panel, between 12 May and 21 May 2022. Aer interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

About the competition:

The competition is open to small business owners across the country, which have an annual turnover of less than $10 million and have fewer than 20 employees. They can enter the competition by heading to, and submitting a response to the following question, in 75 words or less: In 75 words or less, what's the number one emotional expense you're claiming for this EOFY and tell us why you deserve to win a prize.ʼ ʼ

For all media enquiries, please contact the Xero media team.

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