Downturn one year on: 35% of small businesses still unaffected

Downturn one year on: 35% of small businesses still unaffected

Downturn one year on: 35% of small businesses still unaffectedThree quarters of small businesses put survival in the recession down to the strength of their own determination and initiative.

Six months after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) officially announced that the UK was in a recession, a new report from Intuit, provider of QuickBooks financial management software, reveals how small business Britain has been holding up over the past 12 months.

The results of the research show that while one in twenty businesses have been impacted so severely by the recession that their survival may be at risk, encouragingly, one in four felt no noticeable effect and 35% had felt a negligible impact.

This can be largely attributed to the sensible business decisions they have made, with three quarters of the businesses interviewed stating their survival was down to their own individual efforts. In addition, only 23% of respondents felt it had been easy to access external help and advice reinforcing the idea that the survival of the majority of small businesses during the recession was down to them alone.

In receiving virtually no support, small business owners have used their initiative and adopted a raft of various measures over the past year to protect themselves from the downturn. The most common initiative, adopted by 45% of respondents, has been to reduce overheads and have a tighter management of outgoings. The second most popular step, which nearly a third (30%) of business owners took, was to introduce new products or services rather than other means of cost cutting. Third was renegotiating prices with suppliers, with 74% of respondents claiming success from this approach.

“For the past year, small business Britain has been struggling with one of the worst recessions of all time.”

says Pernille Bruun-Jensen, Managing Director of Global Small Business at Intuit.

“With over 35% of the UK economy reliant on the more than 4.7 million small businesses operating in the UK, their success is as vital as any of the large publically quoted businesses.

While our research shows that it has not been easy for small businesses it highlights that many have not rested on their laurels in the absence of tangible Government support. There is clearly a toolbox of proactive measures out there that business owners can take to steer them through any downturn and that indeed many small business owners have taken over the past year to ensure survival and success.”

In relation to this, the report also offers guidance to small business owners on how to navigate their businesses through an economic slowdown, including practical advice from their peers on what measures they have taken to weather the storm.

Kevin Sands, who runs Racehorses Hotel in North Yorkshire, advises that having a full understanding of how a business is doing, either in rainy days or sunny spells, can help business owners plan ahead in readiness for the next challenge.

“Keep your eye on small things as they tend to add up quickly and shop around to strike a bargain. I also have a good relationship with my suppliers, my business is doing well so I look after them by paying my bills on time, and they look after me by offering good deals.”

Bruun-Jensen adds:

“With the knock-on impact of the recessionary period likely to linger for some time, this down-to-earth guidance is worth paying attention to.”

Download the report for free: Small Business Recession Review and Guide (157k PDF)

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