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Analysing the confidence of current and future business owners within the UK

The past few years have been extremely challenging for business owners, from navigating through a pandemic to a cost of living crisis, there has been no shortage of obstacles for businesses to climb.

Many businesses have had to adapt by cutting costs to help fight the financial strain being applied on businesses across various industries.

That’s why here at Moneypenny, we surveyed 500 business owners and senior decision-makers regarding their confidence surrounding their business. We also quizzed them on the factors causing them to worry about the future of their business.

We then looked at demographics such as age, region and gender to examine any patterns or trends throughout the survey data.

Factors risking the future of businesses

Firstly, we quizzed business owners on the factors that have recently caused them to worry about the future of their business. Positively, 15% of business owners responded that no factors had recently put their business at risk.

Those surveyed were allowed to choose more than one factor if it applied, 56% stated the Covid-19 pandemic caused businesses to worry about their future. Demographically, the age group that believed Covid to be a contributing factor to the worry and instability surrounding businesses was the 35-44 age bracket.

The second biggest factor was the cost of living crisis, with 52% believing this provides a risk to the future of their business.

At a time of increased cost of living, businesses are suffering as a result of less disposable income for households meaning less money is being spent in less-essential industries.

Another factor worrying business owners is the rise in fuel costs, 39% stated this as a troubling aspect. This is definitely a factor that will affect industrial businesses or any business operating with delivery drivers.

Other factors included the increase in energy costs (30%) and a decline in customer confidence such as cancelling subscriptions or not spending as much money (25%).

It was intriguing to see the decline in consumer spending affect a quarter of business owners surveyed. 63% of those surveyed from the North East are worried about the reduction of customer confidence and spending.

Interestingly, the lowest factor businesses see as a worry or risk to their future is difficulty recruiting staff, with only 15% viewing this as a concerning factor.

How businesses are adapting

As businesses continue to feel the pressure of a post-pandemic recession, many have had to make alterations to how they operate both internally and externally to adapt to the difficult period they find themselves in.

The survey quizzed business owners and senior decision-makers on some of the changes these worrying factors have influenced in the day-to-day running of the business. Again, those surveyed were allowed to select all the applying factors.

It was positive to see 11% of the respondents state they didn’t have to change any of the ways their business is run as a result of factors putting some businesses under extreme pressure.

The biggest change already being integrated into many businesses was the increase in prices, with 53% stating this was already something that had been introduced to deal with the increasing outlays as a result of the cost of living crisis.

33% of business owners stated pausing any hiring decisions had been introduced temporarily. Alternatively, 32% of business owners confirmed that cutting down the amount of staff has been a method used to reduce operating costs.

It was interesting to see 31% respond with selling or ending the rent period of their physical office, this is something being encouraged more and more amongst businesses as hybrid and remote working continues to prove productive while offering businesses a way of escaping rising energy bills.

Some businesses were also putting plans in place to receive financial assistance through this costly crisis. 28% chose to seek available grants as a way to adapt while 17% stated they were taking out a business loan to aid with the financial strain.

Regionally, 50% of those surveyed from the North East had taken out a business loan whilst 66% of Londoners had increased their prices to cover rising costs.

The future of businesses

One of the main reasons behind completing this survey was to gauge the overall confidence instilled amongst business owners and senior decision-makers in their business’ future.

Business owners were therefore asked how confident they were in their business’s future. It was refreshing to see 82% answer that they were confident, with 32% very confident and 50% somewhat confident.


Demographically, 63% of East Midlanders were very confident in the future of their business, while 89% of East Anglians were somewhat confident.

At the other end of the scale, 13% were not very confident while 3% were not optimistic at all in their business’s future. Alarmingly, 2% of those surveyed stated they could not feasibly see their business surviving the next three years. This included 12% of the 25-34 age bracket surveyed.

Business owners and senior decision-makers were also questioned about their history of downsizing their company, the survey asked if they had downsized in the past five years.

The results showed a clear pattern that coincides with the pandemic, 5% of businesses downsized four years ago, before Covid. When compared to the 11% who downsized three years ago, 23% who downsized two years ago and lastly the 15% downsizing last yea.,

Furthermore, 26% stated that they luckily did not have to downsize and were in a privileged position to not be planning to do this in the future. Sadly, 4% answered that whilst they were yet to downsize, this was something the company is planning to do in the future and 16% were unsure.

Lastly, the survey also aimed to find out if business owners and senior decision-makers had plans to pause or close their business in the next year or so and therefore could potentially be looking for a job themselves in the near future.

A majority of 37% believe they will not have to look elsewhere for a different job which is an encouraging sign. However, 23% believe they might have to look for another job within the next year, whilst 13% don’t think they’ll have a choice.

Additionally, 7% stated that they might begin looking at what’s available as a precautionary measure and 20% were unsure of what the future holds, highlighting the lack of stability across many industries at the moment.

Of those who believe they may have to find another job within the next year, 40% were aged between 18-24. It was also intriguing to see the most confident age group in securing their job was the 55-64 age bracket, with 53% of them believing they will not have to look elsewhere for employment.

Regionally, 37% of West Midlanders don’t believe they will have a choice and will have to look elsewhere, 32% of those who were Scottish in the survey agreed with this statement.

84% of East Midlanders view their job as secure while 15% of the North West surveyed might begin looking at what’s available to them.

Future business owners and the factors influencing this decision

Throughout the pandemic, many people began their own side hustles, it was reported by Aviva that since March 2020, one in five Brits has started a side hustle. It highlights a large portion of the general public attempting to run their own company albeit on a tiny scale.

Therefore, we surveyed 1000 UK adults to gauge the appetite of the general public to launch their businesses in the current global situation. We once again looked at demographics such as age, gender and region to examine the people for and against starting up a business.

Firstly, the general public was asked if they have ever thought about starting their own business. Impressively, over a third responded that they had (37%). Of this 37%, 15% is made up of people who have been considering launching their business for a while whilst 14% started to consider this prospect recently.

Demographically, the age group most who have considered starting their own business the most was interestingly the 16-24 age bracket at 67%. It was also fascinating to see that 69% of females had not considered starting a business of their own in the current situation.

Regionally, 55% of those in Greater London had considered this venture, conversely, 73% of those surveyed in Wales had never considered the prospect of starting a business.

For the 37% who responded that they intend to launch their own business, we quizzed them on the varying factors delaying the process. Those surveyed were allowed to select more than one factor if it applied.

Understandably at a time of increased financial strain, it was no surprise to see the cost of starting a business rank as the top factor slowing potential business owners down, 30% believe the cost is a major factor.

30% also stated their confidence was a factor slowing them down with 27% believing running a business would be too difficult. Looking at the age data, 25 to 34-year-olds struggled the most with this, with 34% of them stating confidence was a factor.

The cost of launching a business can vary depending on the industry, however with the current cost of living crisis, many are struggling to keep themselves afloat.

This is reflected in the survey, as 23% stated the cost of living increase was a factor while 17% declared the energy crisis was putting them off launching a business. 16% also stated the rise in fuel costs was delaying procedures, a factor which affects businesses across a wealth of industries.

Future business owners believe Covid-19 and its aftermath to be a potentially damaging factor in starting a business (18%). This was a concern that was raised earlier in the report and is shared by existing business owners.

Interestingly, 23% stated they have been stopped or slowed down in launching their business as a result of the lack of support for start-ups from their local council or government.

Regionally, 34% of those who chose this as a factor were from the West Midlands region, suggesting more needs to be done to support potential business owners in this area.

It was encouraging to see that 11% of those surveyed believe that no factors were stopping or slowing them down when considering launching a business. 35% of those were aged 55 or above.


The most desired industries for future business owners

Understandably, there are many factors potential business owners must consider before going ahead with such a major financial decision. At a time of increased fuel, energy and housing bills, it’s no surprise to see several aspects worry future business owners.

Now that we’ve explored the factors delaying the process of launching a business, we asked the general public if they would start their business within the next twelve months.

Overall, 24% stated they might start their business in the next year. Making up this 24% was 50% of the 16-24 age group who seem very interested in kickstarting their entrepreneurial careers early. 40% of those in the Greater London region also have plans of starting their business in the near future.

Of the 24%, 7% confirmed they would definitely be going ahead with their business plans in the next year whilst 16% stated they were still considering. Conversely, 11% didn’t know and 66% stated they had no plans to launch in the next 12 months, which is understandable at a time of major instability surrounding finances.

Lastly, we wanted to learn about the most desired industries by future business owners. We asked the general public what industry they would like to eventually launch their business in.

The top five most desired industries for future business owners were:

  1. Retail, Catering & Leisure: 11%
  2. Arts & Culture: 8%
  3. Education: 7%
  4. Finance: 6%
  5. Healthcare: 5%

It’s fascinating to see the top two made up of industries lost throughout the pandemic and lockdowns. Retail, catering and leisure were badly affected by the loss of consumers throughout Covid and many businesses in this industry still find themselves in a state of recovery.

13% of females were interested in launching a business in retail, catering and leisure. The age bracket most interested in this industry was those aged between 16-24. 14% of Scottish survey respondents also chose this industry.

The least desired industries by future business owners were the legal sector (2%) and the manufacturing and utilities industry (3%).

Final thoughts

Overall, we believe the report has provided some unique insight into the attitudes of both business owners and aspiring owners. The two surveys completed have helped shine a light on the factors proving the biggest threat to the future of businesses across the UK.

It was particularly interesting to see the trend of businesses downsizing throughout the pandemic, with 23% of business owners surveyed stating they downsized 2 years ago, at the height of Covid-19.

It was also convenient to see the different ways businesses have been forced to adapt to survive and how this can differ depending on the age, gender and region of the business owner.

If you’re looking for outsourced support for your calls, live chat and more, then consider choosing us as we are the UK’s number one answering service.



One Poll surveyed 500 UK business owners and senior decision-makers, questioning them on the future of their business and the factors posing the biggest risks. The survey was carried out between the 3rd of August and the 5th of August 2022.

Censuswide surveyed 1000 members of the British public questioning them on whether they would like to launch their own business in the future and the factors delaying this if so. The survey was carried out between the 5th of August and the 8th of August 2022.

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