78% of SMEs say cost-of-living is biggest threat to their survival over the next year

Two-thirds of Britain’s small business owners say the last two years have been the most challenging since they started their venture. Yet, PayPal’s annual Business of Change report, this year focusing on Wellbeing & Empowerment’, revealed nearly half (47%) fear the next 12 months could prove even more difficult.

Surveying 1,000 small business owners nationwide, PayPal’s report revealed three quarters (78%) believe the immediate cost-of-living crisis to be the biggest threat to their business given the lack of consumer spending and hefty fuel price increases.

Other challenges include maintaining a steady cash flow (29%), managing their own mental health (18%) and coping with the increase in cost of raw materials (17%). Given this perfect storm, more than a quarter of SME owners (27%) say they are not sure that they will even be in business in the next 12 months.

UK entrepreneurs’ financial wellbeing takes a hit in 2022

Running a business at the best of times isn’t easy. In fact, three in five small business owners agree that it’s stressful. But factor in the economic pressures on inflation, supply chains and the cost-of-living, more than half (52%) of SMEs are now concerned for their future.

To keep their business afloat, SME owners are working weekends (44%), going six months or more without taking a much-needed holiday (36%) and a third are even working seven-day weeks on a regular basis. The stress and worry of running a business is keeping 62 percent of SMEs awake at night, leaving a third feeling alone and isolated due to there simply being too much going on in the world for them to process.

The result? Poor financial wellbeing, evident by the quarter of SMEs ignoring the financial health of their business fearing what the true picture is with nearly half (48%) admitting they do not have an emergency fund set aside to manage any unexpected costs.

Taking back control: key to financial wellbeing and navigating the cost-of-living crisis

The challenges of the last two years have forced many SMEs to get on top of their finances by upskilling themselves using finance apps (31%) and learning from past mistakes (53%). In fact, one in five SMEs agree that the last two years have had a positive impact on their ability to manage their financial wellbeing, with 56% feeling more financially savvy, 27% feeling back in control of their business and one in five (21%) feeling more empowered as a business owner since improving their financial knowledge.

In fact, small business owners believe that having a financially healthy business will create new opportunities for them personally, including being more self-confident as a leader (45%), having savings for the future (42%) and experiencing less stress (39%).

SMEs also cited some of the most important areas that they would change to achieve financial wellness would be to take more time back for themselves (29%) and growing their business through expansion (24%).

Ben Ramsden, Head of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) at PayPal, said: “Financial woes and stress can have a negative impact on health and wellness. In tough times, staying on top of their financial wellness is a vital tool for small business owners. It needs to be a priority to minimise the personal impact of running a business, which can be an isolating and challenging experience for entrepreneurs.

“As a trusted partner, we help to empower small business owners to manage their financial wellness by providing simple tools and technology to ease unnecessary stress by offering them seamless payment solutions, so they can focus on the big picture.”

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