HomeBussinessUK small business owners expect to outperform the UK economy in 2024

UK small business owners expect to outperform the UK economy in 2024


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Business owners are in an optimistic mood, despite concerns about the economy, according to the 2024 annual survey of small businesses conducted by Atom Content Marketing, publishers of the Donut websites.

The poll of UK small businesses has found that two-thirds (66%) of business owners and freelancers say they expect to do better in 2024 compared to last year.

Just 7% of those polled said they expect to do worse and 10% expect to do the same.

The findings suggest that growth is the key ambition for many UK SMEs, with 53% set to spend more on marketing in 2024 and 32% revealing plans to start a new business.

Survey respondents are mainly business owners (48%), freelancers and sole traders (26%) or directors (19%). Most owners say their business is at the growth stage (29%), 22% are established, 18% are start-ups and 18% are pre-launch. Just 8% say they run mature businesses, possibly looking for an exit.

Interestingly, optimism for their business prospects is not matched by confidence in the UK economy, suggesting that a significant number of business owners expect to outperform the economy this year.

While 66% of respondents expect their own business fortunes to improve, only 24% think the UK economy will pick up this year; 28% expect the UK economy to get worse and 24% think it will stay the same.

Concerns about the economy and rising prices remain uppermost, however, with 16% of small businesses surveyed citing these factors as their main worry. Other key concerns are: cashflow and funding, political change and work-life balance.

Marketing is a key focus for the small businesses polled, with 53% respondents saying that they plan to spend more on marketing in 2024. However, 43% say they have no plans to increase their marketing budget.

The top five ways that business owners plan to market their business this year are:

  • Social media posts;
  • Email marketing;
  • Online advertising;
  • Local advertising;
  • Exhibitions and events.

When it comes to business challenges, respondents report that the legacy of the pandemic is still having an impact. Other key struggles include: getting website traffic, finding new clients and managing finances. Almost one in five say they plan to build a new website.

When asked “What’s the best thing about working for yourself?”, respondents cited:

  • The freedom of being self-employed;
  • Creativity and problem-solving;
  • Having autonomy and independence – not having to do someone else’s bidding;
  • Choosing projects that are personally interesting and engaging;
  • Managing your own time and working at your own pace.

Rory MccGwire, founder of Atom Content Marketing, said, “These findings are enormously encouraging. They demonstrate that the UK’s growing community of small businesses, sole traders and freelancers are optimistic, ambitious and resilient despite the on-going cost of living crisis.

“Business growth is clearly a key focus for UK small firms. Our aim with the Donut websites is to provide all the information and resources that small businesses need to turn their ambitions into reality.”

Lisa Williams, managing director of Atom Content Marketing, said, “Running your own business is a dream for many Brits; this survey shows that, with determination, working for yourself can pay real dividends – not just financially but in terms of the freedom and work-life balance you can achieve.”

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