Small business owners are taking a hit to their mental health during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, according to new PayPal research, which shows that 91% of small business owners or decision makers felt work-related stress in the past 12 months.

In the study, a lack of sales (34%), time pressures (33%), poor work life balance (28%), keeping up with technology (28%) and managing cash flow (28%) were cited as top contributors.

This stress is taking a toll on wellbeing, with one-third of business owners saying they lack time for relaxation and exercise (34%), or to spend with family or friends (27%), and one-quarter (23%) are suffering from insomnia or poor sleep.

One-in-five say the stress of business is causing strain on their relationships (22%), and that they are feeling depressed about business (20%). Two-in-five (38%) say taking time off to relieve their burnout was not possible due to work pressures.

While many factors are beyond their control, there are steps small business owners can take to help protect themselves to reduce the risk of harm.

Health and community psychologist, Dr Marny Lishman (pictured), works with many startups and small business owners to help them reach their potential and overcome psychological challenges, including burnout.

“Small business owners are susceptible to burnout because of their excessive workloads, financial pressures, lack of resources and lack of time allocated to looking after their own physical and mental wellbeing,” Dr Lishman said.

“Owning a small business is inherently stressful, right from the development phase, so it’s important that business owners make sure they have adequate support in place from the beginning. It’s crucial that they make time for their own self-care to mitigate the stress they are likely to feel. This means making time for physical activity, socialising, sleeping, resting, and relaxing, spending time with family or doing hobbies, and delegating work-related duties to other people when they can.”

Dr Lishman said that while it can seem impossible to take time away from the demands of running a business, good mental health is a prerequisite for business success, not a nice-to-have.

“It’s also important to have a psychologist, coach, mentor or trusted friend to debrief with throughout the challenges of owning a business.”

A range of mental health and wellbeing resources are available at including free and confidential coaching, tools, resources, and communities. Help with financial stress can be accessed by calling the Small Business Debt Helpline: 1800 413 828.

A list of mental health helplines, including crisis support, are available at, including Lifeline on 13 11 14, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.