According to insurance firm Hixcox, entrepreneurs have pumped in up to £16 billion of their own personal savings to get their businesses through the last year, making this the UK's ‘piggybank recession'.
SME bosses made sacrifices to protect their staff as well as their businesses - while 34% cut their own salary, just 10% cut the salaries of their senior staff.
One in five (20%) SME bosses took the decision to invest, on average, £17,030 of their own savings while one in three (34%) slashed their own salary to increase cashflow.
At the start of the recession over three quarters (76%) of SME bosses believed they would survive unscathed. The reality is that they have faced more than financial turmoil.
The report shows one third (33%) increased their working hours by, on average, 12.5 hours a week, 10% worked over 50 hours a week to keep their businesses afloat, 38% have suffered from stress, and a quarter (24%) have been unable to sleep due to worrying about their businesses.
Alan Thomas, small business expert at Hiscox, said: "SME bosses have been the unsung heroes of the recession. They have made enormous sacrifices and taken significant personal and financial risks to pull their businesses through the last two years. Their positive outlook for the year ahead is testament to the resilience of UK entrepreneurs and with 25% planning to expand in 2010, they are doing their bit to help lead the UK's recovery."