Biggest threats to small business owners – including Covid loans and fuel prices

The biggest threats facing small business owners over the next year include government COVID loan repayments, lack of consumer spending and hefty fuel price hikes. A survey of 1,000 SME bosses found that two-thirds of those who ran their business before the pandemic admitted the past two years have been their biggest challenges since starting their business.

Almost half of them (47 percent) fear that the next 12 months could be even more difficult. Other obstacles identified are dealing with one’s own mental health and uncertainty about Anglo-international relations.

And three in five small business owners (62 percent) suffered from sleepless nights worrying about their business. More than one in ten (12 percent) think it is very likely that they will go out of business within the next 12 months.

SMEs are trying to gain more control over their financial well-being

This is despite the fact that 44 percent work weekends, 36 percent go six months or more without a holiday and a third work regularly seven days a week. But a sixth of SME owners are hoping the extended platinum anniversary bank holiday will bring a much-needed profit boost, and a third are waiting for Christmas to boost sales.

Ben Ramsden, Head of SMEs at PayPal UK, which conducted the study, said: “Financial issues and stress can have a negative impact on health and well-being. During tough times, keeping track of their financial well-being is an important tool for small business owners.

“It must be a priority to minimize the personal impact of running a business, which can be an isolating and challenging experience for entrepreneurs.”

Given the current challenges, three in five admit they find running their business stressful. Additionally, a quarter ignore their company’s financial health and worry about what the true picture is.

Sandy Ruddock, small business owner and co-founder of Scarlett & Mustard
Sandy Ruddock, small business owner and co-founder of Scarlett & Mustard

Encouragingly, however, SMBs are trying to gain more control over their financial well-being by educating themselves through the use of financial apps (31 percent) and learning from past mistakes (53 percent). As a result, 56 percent feel more financially savvy following the uncertainty of the global pandemic.

More than a quarter (27 percent) feel empowered to take back control of their own business after such uncertainty, and one in five (21 percent) feel empowered as an entrepreneur since learning about their company’s finances improved.

And having a financially healthy business will create new opportunities for small business owners, according to OnePoll research. These include more confidence as a leader (45 percent), savings for the future (42 percent), and less stress (39 percent).

Small business infographic
PayPal helps businesses build resilience

Ben added, “We have launched a suite of solutions and PayPal’s Business of Change: Wellbeing & Empowerment report to empower business owners with practical advice on managing their financial wellbeing and helping them focus on the… Success set in 2022.

Sandy Ruddock, small business owner and co-founder of Scarlett & Mustard, said: “Our biggest challenge has been rising raw material costs, but we are reluctant to raise our prices to avoid impacting our customers – there is a lot of trade pressure to deal with. However, since our website relaunch last year, our sales have increased with 80 percent now being made exclusively online via PayPal.

“It’s really helped relieve the stress associated with it, and I would certainly recommend other small business owners feeling the strain to invest in their social media presence to continue fueling their online growth.”

For practical advice on managing business finances visit –

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