Cost-of-living crisis puts 630,000 microbusinesses at risk

630,000 small and microbusinesses could go under this year as the cost-of-living crisis puts unprecedented pressure on entrepreneurs trying to stay afloat. Data analysis of 2.3 million British microbusinesses has revealed that more than one in nine (12%) fear closure before the end of 2023, which could wipe £12 billion off the UK economy. The annual study – titled Venture Forward – is produced by website builder GoDaddy, which enables small and microbusinesses to sell online.

With the Spring Budget closing in, Venture Forward shows that fewer than one in five (19%) entrepreneurs believe that Rishi Sunak is acting in the best interests of small and microbusinesses. GoDaddy’s [Venture Forward] data showing that the microbusiness community – businesses with 10 employees or fewer – contributes £98 billion to the national economy annually. The sector also supports more than six million jobs, with 17% of the UK’s 5.2 million microbusinesses employing at least one other person.

Entrepreneurs call for help with soaring costs 

More than three quarters (77%) of entrepreneurs say that the cost-of-living crisis is the greatest challenge they’ve faced. Rising costs are the biggest issue of concern with energy bills (80%) as the most prominent, followed by transport costs (44%) and the cost of raw materials (43%).

When asked how MPs can help microbusinesses, the most common response was to offer tax incentives (42%), followed by technical assistance for business development and help with digital strategy (both 36%). More than a third (35%) surveyed said access to capital, while three in 10 (30%) asked for subsidised/affordable rent.

Greater concern amongst Black and Asian entrepreneurs

The data also shows that the cost-of-living crisis is having a disproportionate impact on microbusinesses owned by underrepresented entrepreneurs. 85% of Black entrepreneurs say it’s the worst time they can remember, and 84% of Asian entrepreneurs: compared with 75% of white entrepreneurs, shared similar concerns. Meanwhile, 75% of white microbusiness owners are confident they will survive until the end of 2023. This figure falls to 69% and 68% for black and Asian entrepreneurs respectively.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

However, there is cause for some optimism when comparing against last year’s Venture Forward Data. Black founders accounted for 5.4% of pre-pandemic businesses, which rose to 6.6% among those started in 2021. This figure has risen to 7.3% for microbusinesses started in 2022, showing a clear upward trend for black entrepreneurs. 

Chris and Sarah Fryer, from Newcastle, set up vegan pie business Magpye in 2019: “The business has grown consistently since we started, but the past 6-12 months have been very challenging. As a bakery we use a lot of energy, so the rising cost of gas and electricity has dramatically increased our overheads. We are concerned about the energy relief scheme coming to an end in April, and would like to see the Government launch targeted help for energy-intensive businesses like ours. For the majority of microbusinesses, us included, the profits are also the owners’ wages. We are facing a reality of rising costs at home while dealing with falling profits in the business, yet there seems to be little or no support for businesses like ours.”

Andrew Gradon, Head of GoDaddy UK & Ireland, said: “Venture Forward demonstrates the enormous contributions made by Britain’s microbusinesses. They have the power to add billions to the economy, while providing jobs and opportunity in their local communities. When they thrive, we all do. But the research also reveals the potentially disastrous consequences that the cost-of-living crisis could have on them. With more than 600,000 microbusinesses saying that they feel at risk of going under this year, it is crucial that they are given adequate support to help negate the rising cost of doing business.

“We have very few studies that focus specifically on companies with under 10 employees. They are under-researched, misunderstood and often under-served. GoDaddy aims to change that, and we are determined to support and empower the everyday entrepreneurs that are the engine of the British economy.”

To find out more about GoDaddy’s Venture Forward research study, click here.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024