In recent weeks it’s been difficult to escape the discussions around small businesses dealing with increasing costs, led by the large increases in the price of fuel and energy for both heating and production. This has led to many businesses having to increase their own prices and these, in turn, get passed on to customers and suppliers. This is having a huge impact on some small businesses, and they are suffering as a result, if you look at just the pub sector which was already under a lot of pressure following the various lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have seen the cost of cooking meals and heating the pub go up, beer prices rise, and cellar gas prices increase, this is on top of staff shortages, changing consumer behaviour, high rents, and the fact that many are carrying more debt than prior to the pandemic. That’s just one small business sector out of many that are struggling at the moment.
On the positive side, small business owners are usually a robust bunch, who adapt and change to make their business work but in my opinion, one key thing has changed since I set up the first of my small business venture in 1997 and that’s the margin that many small business owners actually make from doing business. One of the reasons for that I believe is successive government’s lack of understanding of how small business actually works, its importance to the economy and its tendency to treat a small business as a “Big business only smaller” rather than a completely different animal altogether!
When the financial crash happened in 2008 my business and many others had a decent cash reserve or shock absorber if you like and we were able to ride out the storm of reduced business and late payments, but since then I feel small businesses have been squeezed, not only by bigger business customers but by government tinkering, particularly by the treasury, in both the way they tax small businesses and the increased costs they themselves have imposed on businesses. Where small business is impacted more than their larger counterparts. The living wage, auto-enrollment, changes to dividends, VAT, National insurance, IR35 and those small business owners who were excluded from help during the pandemic, as a small business owner juggling multiple roles and trying to keep your business afloat these all had a huge impact in terms of both money and possibly more importantly time.
So I have a sincere hope that the last couple of years will act as a wake-up call to political parties on all sides to really start to talk to small businesses. But more than that, to actually listen and act on what they hear, because most small businesses ask for two things, Make it easier for me to do business and give me a level playing field to operate on and at the moment government seems to want to do neither!
Please take a look at our partner pages within the My Account area, where you will find many of our partners offering services and products at a reduced rate. Find savings for your business anywhere you can.
If you have any concerns about dealing with increased costs or any other business queries, please do contact our helpdesk team to discuss with them. 01565 626001.