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Owners of small and medium-size businesses are suffering from increasing levels of stress, according to a new report.

Research from financial advisor Grant Thornton has found that 17 per cent of business owners have experienced a significant rise in stress during the last year.

The survey of over 7,000 owners found that a further 43 per cent report experiencing at least some increase in their level of stress, spurred by a business landscape they perceive to be in constant flux.

"The perception that it's 'lonely at the top' has never been so true," Grant Thornton growth and strategic services head Jim Rogers said.

"Business owners in the UK face constant change, ever-increasing regulation, a global competitive environment, and pressure on margins, which all lead to higher stress. Owners need to develop strategies to deal with stress, and they need to work smarter, not harder."

The survey also suggested that the number of days holiday an owner takes may correspond to stress levels. In the global study, eight of the 10 countries where the least amount of holidays were taken ranked in the top 10 of most stressed countries.

UK business owners averaged 22 days holiday in 2005, which equalled the EU average.

Regionally, Northern Ireland registered the highest increases in stress, followed by London and the south. Owners in the east reported the lowest rises.

Copyright © 2006, Startups.co.uk

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