Small business owners in the UK work fewer hours than their counterparts in the US, Germany, France, Netherlands or Spain, according to a survey.
Research funded by Hiscox surveyed 500 small businesses in the six countries.
The UK entrepreneurs polled worked an average of 37.6 hours a week compared with an average of over 41 hours.
Those polled were less optimistic than they had been last year and only one in 10 planned to take on staff in the coming year.
The average annual holiday taken by UK entrepreneurs was 21.4 days per year, the highest apart from Germany.
The UK’s Federation of Small Businesses responded that its members were putting in long hours in response to renewed confidence and the report did not reflect this so was not helpful.
The Hiscox report said: “People set up small businesses for many reasons other than money. They value the freedom, autonomy and lifestyle changes that running their own business can bring.”
The UK business owners polled were also the least critical of government bureaucracy and labour laws.
Of the 3,000 entrepreneurs polled across six countries, 38% said they were optimistic about the year ahead, down from 48% a year ago.
Seventy-eight per cent said that it was difficult to find funding for new ventures, with only respondents in the UK saying it was easier than it had been a year ago.
The number of businesses saying they would be able to avoid redundancies this year was slightly up, rising to 63% from last year’s 60%.
Bronek Masojada, chief executive of the business insurer Hiscox said: “Our research findings support the idea that small businesses are adapting to ‘the new normal’, anticipating tough trading conditions rather than expecting any early return to the boom years of the last decade.”