Over a third of small business owners predict growth

16th May 2022

Over a third (37%) of small business owners predict growth for the next three months, the highest figure since the pandemic started more than two-years ago.

The new quarterly data from Novuna Business Finance also reveals that the percentage of small businesses predicting contraction has also hit a two-year low (falling to just 7%).

Despite inflation rising to its highest level in 30 years – plus the impact of war in Ukraine on fuel prices, the new tracking data suggests we are beginning to see the bounce-back after Covid restrictions fell away in the UK earlier this year.

Around the country, the quarterly poll of 1,196 small business owners revealed that 5% of predicted significant expansion for the three-months to 30 June, with 32% predicting sustained organic growth. While 46% of respondents envisaged no change on the previous quarter, 7% of business owners predicted contraction and a further 7% feared collapse.

Significantly, small businesses that had been most affected by the pandemic were those that now see the biggest return in confidence for the future.

Small business owners that had been forced to repurpose their enterprise during lockdown are now most likely to be those on the rise – with 41% of these business owners predicting growth for the next three months, a steep rise from 27% last quarter. Those enterprises that had been forced to close during lockdown are also now bouncing back, with the proportion predicting growth up to 28% (rising from 20% last quarter).

In contrast, for businesses whose operating status was not impacted by Covid – or who continue to work from home – for these enterprises, growth forecasts remain unchanged on the previous quarter.

By sector, the latest Novuna Business Finance data suggests there was a significant rise in growth forecasts for small businesses in the hospitality sector (41%) – a welcome boost for a sector decimated by the pandemic and banking on a seasonal boom as summer approaches. There were also signs of growing confidence from enterprises in the agricultural sector (25%). For both these sectors, the percentage of business owners predicting growth has now fully returned to pre-pandemic levels.

For small businesses in finance and accounting, legal, transport and distribution – more small business owners predicted growth for the next three months than was the case last quarter.

Regionally, there were also signs the Government’s levelling up strategy could also be working. Across seven UK regions more small businesses were going into the spring and summer predicting growth and opportunity for their enterprises. The exception here was Scotland, where the percentage of businesses predicting growth has fallen.

Jo Morris, Head of Insight at Novuna Business Finance said “There is no question that many small businesses have been tangibly impacted by price rises, which directly impact the bottom line and supply chain. That said, it is important not to forget the seismic risks that enterprises had to cope with during the pandemic. Many had to close their doors, others had to fundamentally reinvent their business to survive – and we, at Novuna Business Finance helped many enterprises to adapt at this critical time. Those that experienced the most pain during lockdown are the small businesses that are forging ahead today. And it has taken six months since COVID restrictions fell away for us now to finally see the resilience of small businesses and their power to rebuild and recover.”

Percentage of small business owners that predict net growth by sector:
Quarterly findings and comparisons to the start of the pandemic
Q2
2020
(start of pandemic)
Q1
2022
Q2
2022
Hospitality & leisure
16%
29%
41%
Manufacturing
8%
46%
40%
IT & telecoms
21%
40%
40%
Finance & accounting
11%
35%
39%
Media & marketing
15%
52%
38%
Real estate
7%
24%
35%
Legal
10%
29%
35%
Transport & distribution
10%
27%
31%
Construction
12%
36%
29%
Retail
20%
23%
25%
Agriculture
19%
23%
25%
Operational status during the pandemic by percentage that predict growth over time
Operational status during the pandemic by percentage of businesses predicting growth
Q2 2020
(start of pandemic)
Q1 2022
Q2 2022
Re-purpose business, offer & services
15%
27%
41%
Forced to temporarily shut down
7%
20%
28%
Open but worked from home
31%
37%
36%
Unaffacted by lockdown
31%
39%
41%