- 55% of SMEs state they are less or much less confident than they were 12 months ago, during the covid pandemic
- 40% of businesses plan to increase costs to the consumer
- Energy and utility costs remain the biggest concern for small business
- #CostofTradingCrisis campaign launched to support UK SMEs
Recent research commissioned by UMi, the national business support company, shows that more than two thirds of UK’s SMEs are feeling less confident about the future of their business than they did 12 months ago, during the covid-pandemic.
The survey of over 1,000 business participants also found that 40% of SME business owners are having to explore increasing costs to the consumer to combat inflation, which is sweeping the nation, and a further 36% are still looking to reduce their energy consumption in a bid to mitigate costly bills.
Despite short term relief on energy bills, wider business costs continue to soar, with a quarter of small businesses surveyed sourcing alternative suppliers and a fifth planning to scale back plans for growth.
The top three biggest worries for UK SMEs are:
- Energy and utilities (32%)
- Staff costs (22%)
- Fuel costs (12%)
The news comes as UMi launches its #CostofTradingCrisis campaign to help SMEs navigate the ongoing uncertainty through a programme of webinars, partnership collaborations, expert advice and resources.
Hosted via UMi’s Sat Nav for business – a resource for businesses to access the best information, expertise and finance – the #CostofTradingCrisis campaign will support the needs of small businesses, linking them up with those who can help, from financial and professional services firms to utilities and public sector support organisations.
A free to attend webinar series starting in November by UMi and its partners will be accessible online via – www.weareumi.co.uk/satnav/events-learning/webinar-series-cost-of-trading-crisis/
Webinar sessions include:
- How to build your business resilience action plan, hosted by Nicki Clarke OBE, Chief Executive of UMi
- 8 steps to reduce your trading and energy costs, hosted by Andrew Moon, Head of Business Development at Swoop Finance
- Improve your customer acquisition and reduce the cost of sales, hosted by Guy Lloyd, Director of the Institute of Sales Professionals
Sat Nav also provides businesses with direct access to expert advisers, alongside hundreds of tools and resources to give personalised support to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Nicki Clark OBE, UMi Chief Executive, said: “We believe that for businesses to thrive we need to make doing business easier for them. As a provider of business advice, we’ve been on the front line in supporting SMEs across the UK over the past six months as they navigate unprecedented trading conditions and this survey shows just how hard our SMEs are finding things in the face of economic uncertainty.
“With this is mind, we’ve brought together, and continue to look for partners from across industry to help give businesses a foot up and to get back on track. We can’t fix the energy crisis, but we can support businesses to understand the incremental steps they can take to protect their business interests.”
Lewis Bowen, Entrepreneur and Director of Babco UK, said: “Babco UK is no stranger to the challenges of managing and launching drinks brands and products, and recent months have presented us with a set of new challenges that have meant we have had to change our operating model to protect the business and livelihoods of our small but dedicated team.
“Changes in customer buying habits, the uncertain costs of supplies and increasing manufacturing costs have all had an impact and we are now reducing our product portfolio to focus on how our consumers can have a better entry level to our premium offerings and owned brands.”
Heidi May, founder of independent fashion manufacturer, Aesthetic Laundry, added: “Recent months have been really challenging for small businesses like ours. In August, we started to notice changes in buying behaviour, both in terms of the number of orders and in the size of the orders placed. We brought forward our autumn winter promotions and even reduced our studio space from two to one, but last month we had to make one of the most difficult decisions any small business can make and we reduced our workforce from nine to five. This was necessary to protect the business but we hope, like covid, we will weather the storm and be able to grow once again.”
To access resources available to businesses as part of UMi’s #CostofTradingCrisis campaign, please visit – www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/hot-topics/cost-of-trading-crisis/