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Despite adverse conditions taking hold of the UK economy, new research has shown that tradespeople are amongst the most confident of small business owners in the UK. The SME Insights Report, published by small business insurance provider Simply Business, reveals the hopes, ambitions and stumbling blocks for SME owners in the UK.
The findings indicated optimism in the trades sector, with two in five (39%) tradespeople saying that they believe the economy will improve. Tradespeoples’ confidence in their own business jumped, with almost three quarters (72%) saying that they are feeling positive about their prospects in 2023 – this indicates a determination to succeed despite the more balanced outlook for the sector and the broader UK economy.
Tradies bolstering business to ride out economic uncertainty
While optimism is high amongst tradespeople, the sector is still facing a plethora of unique obstacles. Over half (51%) of tradespeople cited the rising cost of running a business as a top concern, whilst 40% said that finding and retaining customers was also proving to be a spanner in the works. Rising taxes, interest rates and inflation were also cited as cause for concern.
In response to volatile economic conditions, half (50%) of tradespeople say that they have implemented price rises to combat rising costs. Over one third (36%) are holding off buying new equipment, whilst a fifth (21%) are halting business expansion plans. In spite of this halt in expansion plans, the community remains steadfast.
Taylor Rutter, Contract Carpenter based in Northamptonshire said “Despite the challenges, I am feeling confident about the future of my business. My work is still in demand, and, as a self-employed person, I have the unique advantage of being able to be flexible, which means that I can pick up extra jobs and take time off as and when I need.
“Having said that, I do think that the government should not rest on its laurels when it comes to SMEs – if the millions of small businesses in the UK are given the tools to succeed, then we will all feel the benefit”
Government support now essential for success
Within the findings emerged a clear emphasis on the importance of government intervention to aid the trade industry. In particular, a quarter (28%) of tradespeople believe there should be a review of the energy price cap to ease financial burdens, while entrepreneurial programs are cited as a valuable means of support for tradespeople looking to enhance their skills and business acumen.
Richard Burle, Gardener and landscaper based in Chichester said “A turning point in my career would be when I came across in the government’s New Enterprise Allowance in 2019. I had left a full time position and wanted to start something new, and I heard about the NEA when I went to the jobcentre to find out what the next step could be.
“The first in-person session I attended gave all of the basics – how to make a business plan, finding and benchmarking competitors, and I was matched with a mentor to help with all the soft skills necessary to find and keep customers. I knew that a selling point I had was the personal service that I could offer customers.
“Sadly the programme is no longer running. I would love to see something similar put in place – there are so many bright people who could start up some seriously successful businesses if only they were given the right support.”
Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business “The stoic spirit of small business owners is the backbone of the UK economy – their resilience is vital to the nation’s recovery and growth. The fact that many SMEs across the UK are struggling so significantly is a serious cause for concern for the British economy and communities.
“Naturally, the impact on consumer purchasing behaviour is trickling through to the books of small business owners at a time when SMEs need our support the most. The reduced levels of cash-flow and liquidity will only make things worse for many. Small businesses sit at the heart of our communities and are vital to our economy, and it is essential that we continue to support them in these times of financial uncertainty.”
For more from Simply Business visit Simply Business – insurance for small businesses and landlords – Simply Business UK.