UK Tradespeople Stand Resilient: A Look into the 2023 Business Outlook

The Future Shines Bright for Skilled Trades in the Midst of Economic Challenge

Key Takeaways:

  • Tradespeople are among the most confident UK small business owners for 2023.
  • Despite economic challenges, 72% of tradespeople feel positive about their business prospects.
  • Rising business costs, customer retention, and economic factors are key challenges.
  • Government support and intervention are essential for the success and growth of this sector.

About Simply Business

Founded in 2005, Simply Business is one of the leading business insurance providers in the UK, primarily catering to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). With a customer-centric approach powered by technology and data, they have insured over 900,000 businesses and landlords. They operate globally with teams stationed from London to Atlanta. Recognised for their positive social impact, Simply Business has achieved the B Corp accreditation and has been consecutively named the Sunday Times Best Company To Work For.

Tradespeople’s Confidence in Their Future

Despite the ongoing economic challenges in the UK, tradespeople remain one of the most optimistic groups in the business sector. An impressive 72% have expressed positive sentiments about their prospects for the upcoming year. This resilience showcases the sector’s determination to thrive, irrespective of broader economic circumstances.

The Challenges Ahead

However, this optimism doesn’t negate the challenges. A significant 51% have pointed out the rising cost of business operations as a major concern. Furthermore, 40% are grappling with customer acquisition and retention. Economic factors such as increasing taxes, interest rates, and inflation further add to their list of challenges.

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Taylor Rutter, a Contract Carpenter, shares his optimism, stating, “Despite the challenges, I am feeling confident about the future of my business. My work is still in demand, and, as a self-employed person, I have the unique advantage of being able to be flexible.” But Rutter also highlights the need for government support, emphasizing its role in ensuring the success of millions of small businesses in the UK.

Tackling the Economic Uncertainty

To mitigate these challenges, tradespeople are becoming strategic. Half of them have raised their prices to counteract the growing costs. Others are cautiously pausing investments in new equipment (36%) and suspending business expansion plans (21%).

The Vital Role of Government Support

The research underscores the need for government support. Many tradespeople, about 28%, see a review of the energy price cap as a way to alleviate financial stress. Additionally, they view entrepreneurial programs as a valuable resource to enhance their business knowledge and skills.

Richard Burle, a Gardener and Landscaper, fondly recalls the government’s New Enterprise Allowance in 2019: “A turning point in my career would be when I came across in the government’s New Enterprise Allowance in 2019… I knew that a selling point I had was the personal service that I could offer customers.” He adds that if such support is reinstated, many promising entrepreneurs could establish successful businesses.

The Unwavering Spirit of Small Business Owners

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commends the steadfast spirit of small business owners, describing them as the “backbone of the UK economy.” However, he expresses concern over the struggles faced by many SMEs, emphasizing their critical role in the UK’s recovery and growth. He says, “Naturally, the impact on consumer purchasing behaviour is trickling through to the books of small business owners at a time when SMEs need our support the most.”

In Conclusion

The research offers a nuanced perspective on the state of tradespeople in the UK for 2023. While they face tangible challenges, their unwavering resilience and optimism set them apart. With adequate government support, these skilled professionals could indeed anchor the UK’s economic recovery in the face of uncertainty.

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