Micro-firms rely on unpaid support to survive

The majority of UK micro-business owners rely on regular help from friends and family, much of it unpaid, according to new research.

A report from Lloyds Bank Insurance reveals that 64% of Britain's micro-businesses (with fewer than ten employees) rely on support from friends and family. Friends and relatives put an average of six hours a week into helping these micro-businesses stay afloat.

Although 41% of these firms pay their family and friends with an average salary of £14 per hour, just over half (51%) said this support is unpaid. It means the UK's family support economy could be worth around £64.3 million per week, according to Lloyds.

The support ranges from helping to make business decisions (40%), completing practical tasks (34%), running errands (29%), managing social media accounts (10%) and helping with childcare (8%). Partners are most likely to step up and help, with 43% of business owners helped by their other half. One in five (19%) also rely on their children and 29% use friends.

The vast majority (84%) of business owners say the contribution of friends or family has had a positive impact on their business; 24% describe it as "crucial in keeping their business running" and 10% say their business "would not be able to go on without this support".

Key benefits cited by business owners include: increasing revenue (13%), increasing productivity (25%), making the business more manageable (35%) and providing emotional support (30%).

Damien McGarrigle, head of business insurance at Lloyds Bank Insurance, said: "Starting up and running a business can be all-consuming, with family and friends often rallying around small business owners to ensure they are successful.

"However, micro-business owners cannot solely rely on personal contacts to ensure everything runs smoothly. Our research found that a third of those polled experienced problems in the past year - from technology failures to employee sickness - which resulted in more than a quarter operating at reduced capacity."

  • In some instances I have just pop there at their office and I have been seen in 15 minutes. is faster then the GP.