Risky Business: The Personal and Financial Costs of Small Business Failure


Since the early 1980s small businesses and, in particular, self-employment have been a growing phenomenon in the British economy, and the 'enterprise culture' became firmly established as a central feature of British economic policy.

Much of the political, economic and academic interest in small buisnesses has focussed on their role as employment providers and, more particularly, job creators. But alongside the growth in small businesses and self-employment, the incidence of small business failure has also grown. Far less attention has been paid to the outcomes and, in particular, the personal and financial costs of small business failure. Yet it can have devastating effects not simply on people's financial stability but also on their health, self-esteem, personal relationships and family life.

This study consists of in-depth interviews with people whose small businesses were encountering problems and those who had already ceased trade. It looks at how and why they became self-employed in the first place, and how they organised their business and personal finances while trading. It also examines the process of small business failure, beginning at the point at which people first encountered problems and ending, for some, with the decision to close down. It provides an in-depth understanding of not only the factors which trigger failure, but also its impact on the people involved, from their personal finances to the ways in which small business failure affects the health, self-esteem and personal relationships of the individuals involved.

ISBN: 085374713X