The current challenges small businesses face
Want your article or story on our site? Contact us here
Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy, employing millions of people and driving growth. However, the pandemic hit them hard, and the majority are still facing a range of challenges that could threaten their survival.
One of the biggest issues is access to funding. Many small businesses are struggling to secure the loans they need to keep their operations running. The pandemic made lenders more cautious, and many businesses are seen as high-risk. This means that even those that have been successful in the past are now struggling to secure the financing they may need to keep their doors open.
Another major challenge is the uncertainty surrounding the economy. The wasting of public funds by the government, the cost-of-living crisis, and escalating inflation have all made our economy weak, amongst other factors. Experts say that we will (narrowly) avoid another recession but the owners of most SMEs would disagree. Consumers have less disposable income to spend after paying their bills, and it stands to reason that some businesses will be affected as a result. Even if you had a healthy turnover at the moment, would you feel it’s the right time to invest what little money you have into larger premises, more stock, more staff? Or would you wait until the UK was on a more even keel, financially?
Small businesses are also struggling with a shortage of skilled workers. Many employees from overseas returned home when Brexit was enforced, leaving businesses without the talent they need to run their operations effectively. This has led to increased competition for workers in general, which has driven up wages and made it more challenging for businesses to attract and retain talent.
The pandemic also changed consumer behaviour. Now, many more people opt for online shopping and delivery, which hurts small businesses that rely on shoppers physically visiting their premises. Without enough footfall and bodies in the building, businesses can’t justify the high cost of rent and other overheads, which make up another major issue. Many small businesses are struggling to pay their rent, utility bills and other expenses, which eats into their already-decreasing profits and makes it more challenging for them to stay in business. This has led to some companies closing their doors permanently, which also perpetuates the UK’s economic problems.
Aside from an evacuation of foreign workers, Brexit’s new regulations have made it more challenging for all UK businesses that import or export products. This red tape has simply strangled small businesses and has led to increased costs and delays and an inability to operate efficiently.
Finally, many small businesses are struggling with mental health issues. The stress that comes from trying to keep a business afloat in this uncertain economy is taking its toll on owners. This is leading to burnout, depression, and anxiety, which is not only harmful to their personal wellbeing, but which also affects their ability to run their enterprises effectively.
It’s a dire time for most people at the moment, and things don’t look like they’re going to improve any time soon. Blame could be laid at the government’s door, for not doing more to protect SMEs against rising utility costs, for example, even though they were (begrudgingly) supporting households with the same issue.
It would be a sparse (and expensive) world if we only had huge conglomerates to buy from. Those whose shareholders really couldn’t give a flying fig if you’re a loyal customer or not. Those huge companies who don’t pay their staff fairly and who invest in their customer service last, after putting many millions into their chatbots and AI that can’t handle anything but simple questions (which are probably already answered on these companies’ websites).
We should be supporting the UK’s small businesses and spending our money with independent companies. When you really think about it, who would you rather enjoy the meagre profits from your sale—those with so many businesses they can’t count them, as they sit on massive offshore accounts, or the guy down the street who just wants to feed his family and put a roof over their heads?