Survey highlights distress of small business owners

Almost a quarter of small business owners in the UK worry their company will fold in six months, with nearly a third admitting to looking out for part-time work to make ends meet.

According to a new study published less than three months before the general election, Britain’s small businesses have issued their manifesto for change to the leading political parties.

The study published today by SwitchMyBusiness.com, gives a snapshot of the struggles facing Britain’s small businesses, from butchers to internet start-ups, by asking them for their views on everything from late payments to workplace stress.

SwitchMyBusiness.com is a compare and switch service supporting small business owners and finding them the best energy prices for their business.

Small businesses demand more government support

According to the research, a huge 93% of businesses want change from a new government and election when the country goes to the polls on 7 May 2015.

Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses show that at the start of 2014, small firms accounted for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses in the UK.

Last year, David Cameron described small businesses as “the lifeblood of the economy”, following an earlier promise to give £2,000 tax cuts and enforce new rules to protect bosses against late payments by big customers.

Yet, a total of 40% of respondents of this latest study do not believe David Cameron understands their needs, with the Tories under increasing pressure to deliver for SMEs ahead of the general election.

A total of 34% want a reduction in business rates, while 21% want government help with utility bills, and 25% support the introduction of a loan scheme similar to the student loans scheme where businesses have a minimum period of 3 years before they need to start paying the loans back.

Some 22% want access to affordable superfast broadband in more areas of the UK, while 25% want harsher penalties for businesses that pay late.

In November, the government launched a consultation proposing that large and listed companies should be required to report statistics such as the average time it takes them to pay suppliers.

The SwitchMyBusiness.com study also found cashflow is the biggest problem for small businesses, with nearly a third saying they would look for an additional job to make ends meet if no changes are made to improve conditions for small businesses.

Being paid late is the second biggest problem for small businesses, with 31% saying it causes them issues, compared with 18% who said workplace stress was impacting their business.

Alarmingly, a total of 24% of small business owners feel that their business would survive less than six months, based on the current economic climate.

Fourteen per cent cited ability to pay suppliers and the cost of business rates as having a negative impact.

The study also found that of those businesses turning over less than £100k a year, 41.4% have skipped paying themselves more than once, while 27% of businesses with a turnover of between £100k and £1 million have also not paid themselves on many occasions.

Commenting on the research findings, CEO of SwitchMyBusiness.com Ivan McKeever said: “The picture from UK small business owners is clear; they want change from the government and they want more help. Small businesses are the forgotten younger brother of the big corporates and we want them to have a voice and get it heard. This is why we’ve put together the small business manifesto so as we head into election ‘promise’ season, the political parties will stand up and take notice.”

Small business manifesto: #whatbizwant

  • 34% want a reduction in business rates
  • 30% want an increase in funding and grants
  • 27% support higher tax free allowances for small businesses
  • 25% want harsher penalties for businesses that pay them late
  • 25% support an introduction of a loan scheme similar to student loans scheme with extra time before they need to pay it back
  • 22% want access to affordable superfast broadband in more areas of the UK
  • 21% want government help with utility bills
  • More help for small business in understanding, paying for and complying with HR laws and other legal regulations (21%)


To coincide with the launch of the #whatbizwant manifesto, SwitchMyBusiness.com has also launched a competition for small businesses to win £300 in vouchers to be spent at Time etc for business admin support.

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