Small businesses remain optimistic about growth – but struggle to plan beyond 2023 

VistaPrint and Enterprise Nation help UK SMEs plan for growth with £150,000 grant programme  

United Kingdom, 28th January 2023 – Four in five (83%) UK SMEs are struggling to plan beyond 2023, according to data, released today by VistaPrint, the design and marketing partner to small businesses. The research comes as VistaPrint launches Realising the Remarkable, a £150,000 grant programme in partnership with Enterprise Nation, to help UK small businesses withstand economic uncertainty and plan for growth.  

Despite 58% of UK small business owners anticipating growth in the year ahead – many are unclear on where this will come from. Over half (55%) have a “rough” business plan, but nothing detailed, while 13% do not have a plan at all.  Among the small business owners that stated they have a plan, almost half (45%) are not able to plan beyond H1. 

Small business owners are similarly unsure of achieving financial targets. While just over a third (34%) are confident that they’ll hit targets, a larger proportion (40%) are unsure and 11% suspect they will not. This uncertainty continues when it comes to their long-term business prospects. Almost two thirds (59%) believe there is a risk they will have to close their business as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. One in five (20%) are already redirecting marketing budgets towards survival – with 57% among these, using it to pay the energy bills.      

The current uncertainty follows a year of turbulence for UK SMEs, where four in five (79%) have had to change their business plan or expect to in the near future. This is clearly taking its toll on small business owners as well as their businesses. Two in five (41%) small business owners have increased their hours over the past few months, at an average of 7 hours per week. Stress has also increased amongst small business owners, with 60% stating their stress levels have increased in recent months due to the economic landscape. 

Emma Jones, CBE, Founder of small business support platform Enterprise Nation comments: “The data shows the remarkable resilience of UK SMEs. They have been repeatedly battered by the economic climate, but remain positive – and we’re lucky that they do. SMEs including start-ups and early-stage businesses play a critical role in the British economy. They accounted for 99.9% of all businesses in the United Kingdom at the start of 2021*. This research suggests their growth ambitions are on hold, which has huge implications for the UK’s wider growth outlook.” 

Research has shown that limited access to finance and a lack of planning can lead to business failure in the first two years**. VistaPrint’s grant aims to help 20 small business owners (start-ups, micro and small businesses can apply) to overcome these challenges and invest in their business by providing them with £7,500 funding, alongside access to expert marketing and design tools and assistance.  

Richard Moody, VistaPrint’s General Manager for Northern Europe, comments: “There is no doubt that small businesses are struggling. Consumers’ pockets are no longer as deep, and rising bills are putting a strain on SMEs’ resources. Within this context there is a danger that businesses will reign in investment. Despite the majority of small businesses owners maintaining or growing their marketing spend, 34% are decreasing it, and of these, 20% have redirected some of their marketing budget towards survival. This shows the difficult decision small businesses face today when they feel they need to deprioritize marketing spend that can help them drive growth. VistaPrint aims to support these amazing businesses by providing them with resources and a financial buffer, enabling them to look beyond 2023 and plan for longer-term growth to realize their remarkable potential.” 

About the grant 

Start-ups, micro and small businesses can apply to be one of 20 businesses each receiving a £7,500 share of the £150,000 Realising the Remarkable prize pot, plus 12 months of free subscriptions to VistaCreate Pro (VistaPrint’s graphic design software), £500 to spend on the VistaPrint UK site and access to a 99designs by Vista logo and brand guide Silver package, which includes brand design services from a professional freelance designer. Click HERE if you want to apply. 

Notes to Editor 

*https://www.bangor.ac.uk/events/the-significant-role-of-smes-in-the-uk-economy#:~:text=Small%20and%20medium%2Dsized%20enterprises,at%20the%20start%20of%202021.  

**https://www.jpmorganchase.com/institute/research/small-business/small-business-dashboard/longevity  

About Research: 

The survey was conducted between December 2022 and January 2023. The overall sample size for this report is 502 with responses from small business owners in the United Kingdom.