News

Our small business news section covers the latest reports, research, stories and updates on regulations that affect the UK’s small and medium enterprises.

Northern Businesses Struggling To Fill Skills Gap

Northern Businesses Struggling To Fill Skills Gap

Northern businesses are struggling to fill the skill gaps within their company and are turning to expensive and ineffective consultants to help them out, according to a report by Zeqr. The survey of 250 enterprise owners has revealed that businesses ‘up North’ spend three times as much on consultants compared to their Southern counterparts – paying external experts £43,000 every year. Northern firms also hire 43% more external consultants than those in the South, with data suggesting that the limited number of consultants based in the North results in less competitive prices and higher fees. Not just a financial burden, Northern enterprises are also wasting a considerable amount of time in ‘engaging experts’ with the average business spending 48 days a year briefing consultants – com... »

Business Owners Ignoring The Importance Of Office Environment In Helping Employee Wellness

Business Owners Ignoring The Importance Of Office Environment In Helping Employee Wellness

UK business owners are ignoring the importance of their office environment in promoting and protecting employee wellness and mental health, according to a report by Peldon Rose. The survey of UK small firm owners and employees has revealed that 91% of workers believe that suitable office space directly improves their productivity, yet just 43% say their current working space achieves this. Worrying, 20% of all staff surveyed admit their current setup is actually hindering their chances of getting more done during a working day – suggesting businesses’ growth is also suffering. With regards mental health, although 76% of workers say they suffer from stress – just 32% believing their business is adequately ensuring a calm atmosphere in the office. An important consideration for business owne... »

Rise Of The Retail Robot: 69% Of Businesses Plan To Increase Tech To Drive Sales

Rise Of The Retail Robot: 69% Of Businesses Plan To Increase Tech To Drive Sales

69% of businesses plan to invest in robots over the next five years in order to drive sales and boost consumer engagement, according to a report by Salmon. The survey of business owners’ attitudes to tech revealed that 61% are currently investing in Internet of Things (IoT) enablement, with 53% looking towards the rise in popularity of voice control tech as an area of opportunity. Virtual and augmented reality, now increasingly popular in the gaming sector, is also being earmarked by 59% of respondents as something they could potentially offer customers in the not-so-distant future. What Impact Will Virtual Reality Have On Businesses? An important consideration for business owners, 80% of consumers surveyed said they would spend more with a retailer if they had advanced tech at their dispo... »

Half Of All Small Businesses Would Have To Close For Good If A Key Employee Died

Half Of All Small Businesses Would Have To Close For Good If A Key Employee Died

Half of all UK small businesses would have to permanently shut their doors if a key employee became seriously ill or died, according to a report by Legal & General. The State of the Nation’s SMEs’ report, which surveyed over 800 small firms, revealed that sole traders and younger enterprises are the most likely to suffer financially if their workers are suffering physically – with 67% and 73% saying that they would last less than a year respectively. Despite the obvious risk, a significant number of those surveyed aren’t taking the necessary precautions to ensure their dying workers don’t take them down with them. Worryingly, 48% of sole traders have no form of cover whatsoever, with 36% of businesses valued at under £250,000 and 35% of first generation family businesses also lacking s... »

Closing On Bank Holidays Could Cost Small Businesses £2,250 Each

Closing On Bank Holidays Could Cost Small Businesses £2,250 Each

UK small businesses could potentially lose £2,250 each if they opt to close on every bank holiday this year, according to a report by Yell Business. The survey of 1,500 small firms and 1,500 consumers revealed that just 26% of businesses open their doors on bank holidays – despite 86% of the public saying they specifically use the day to shop around. Just 42% of retail, catering and leisure businesses operate as normal – though its suggested many more should consider opening too. When divided by region, the Midlands sees the fewest amount of businesses open on bank holiday at just 16%, while Yorkshire sees the highest, with 37%. The remaining bank holidays in 2017 are as follows: 1 May Monday Early May bank holiday 29 May Monday Spring bank holiday 28 August Monday Summer bank holiday 25 D... »

20% Of Firms Believe GDPR Non-Compliance Will Force Them Out Of Business

20% Of Firms Believe GDPR Non-Compliance Will Force Them Out Of Business

20% of businesses believe that the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be so severe it could potentially force them to close their doors, according to a report by Veritas Technologies. The global study revealed that 86% of worldwide enterprises are concerned that GDPR will negatively impact their business, as businesses guilty of non-compliance could face fines of up to €20m or 4% of turnover. Worryingly, 47% of those surveyed admit their company still isn’t ready for GDPR, which comes into effect on the 25 May 2018. Among new regulations include stricter rules on consumer consent and protecting against cyber-attacks, while firms with more than 250 staff will be legally required to hire a data protection officer. General Data Protection Regulation: How to Prepare Mike Palmer... »

Nearly 60% of Business Owners Are Worried Brexit Will Damage Their Recruitment Plans

Nearly 60% of Business Owners Are Worried Brexit Will Damage Their Recruitment Plans

59% of UK small businesses are worried that immigration rules post-Brexit will damage their ability to recruit suitable staff, according to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The What Small Firms Want From Brexit report, which surveyed 1,236 FSB members, revealed that 56% of ‘EU-employers’ are worried about any changes to current employment legislation whatsoever – with 13% even considering moving their operations abroad or shutting their doors altogether. With regards current staff, 72% of respondents said they recruited said employees while they were already in the UK, while 95% have no experience in the current “points-based “system for obtaining work permits for non-EU citizens. In its recommendation to the government, the FSB urged Theresa May to g... »

Six Weeks Before The General Election 80% Of Small Businesses Are Optimistic About The Future

Six Weeks Before The General Election 80% Of Small Businesses Are Optimistic About The Future

With the UK entering election season, small business optimism is at a four-year high – according to a report by Smith & Williamson. The survey of over 200 business leaders revealed that 85% are earmarking the second half of 2017 as a time for growth – with 80% optimistic about the future of their business in the next 12 months. Despite political and economic uncertainty in recent times, the findings represent entrepreneur confidence is at its highest level since mid-2013 – and 30% higher than the end of 2016. Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services at Smith & Williamson, said: “There is no doubt that small businesses continue to have gripes about the government policy. However, the prime minister seems to have caught them in a buoyant mood. It’s possible that, by triggering Art... »

Q1 2017 Sees UK Retail Take Biggest Sales Hit In Seven Years

Q1 2017 Sees UK Retail Take Biggest Sales Hit In Seven Years

UK retail sales have reported their biggest quarterly sales drop in seven years in March, falling 1.4% on the final quarter of 2016, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The figure also declined 1.8% on February 2017, though the total amount spent was still higher than a year ago. The drop coincided with a rise in the cost of everyday goods by 3.3% – the highest growth since March 2012. At 16/4%, petrol stations saw the biggest increase. Only the textiles, clothing and footwear sectors were immune, with the amount spent on all three up 2.5% on the preceding quarter, while online sales jumped by 19.5% in the 12 months to March and increased by 0.5% on February. Keith Richardson, managing director of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “These ... »

Small Businesses Admit They’ve Wasted £12.6bn On Bad Consultants

Small Businesses Admit They’ve Wasted £12.6bn On Bad Consultants

UK small businesses have admitted they’ve wasted £12.6bn on consultants that didn’t improve the performance of their business. According to a report by Zeqr, UK enterprises spent £60bn on external experts last year – though an estimated one million small firms didn’t get value for money. Accounting was the most sought after area for advice, with businesses forking out £9.1bn for help with their numbers. This was closely followed by insurance (£5.3bn), IT (£4.1bn), payroll and pensions (£3.3bn), and website building (£3.1bn). Despite the high costs, its suggested that 49% of small businesses avoid hiring external consultants because of over inflated costs, with 36% citing scepticism about their level of expertise as a barrier. Dr David Fraser, business expert and author, said: “Smaller orga... »

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