As one of Surrey’s leading business insurance brokers, we keep a close eye on local small business trends.
Surrey in general and Guildford in particular, has seen a sizeable increase in the number of businesses locating in the area over the last decade. From the establishment of the Guildford Research Park to the emergence of the video gaming industry, Guildford and the surrounding locality have proved great places to live and work.
In this latest blog, we explore the key trends and issues facing small business owners as 2022 draws to a close and look forward to what 2023 holds for our region’s SMEs.
What Are 2023’s Key Trends For Surrey’s SMEs?
Over the last few years, UK businesses have been impacted by one ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event after another. Brexit, Covid, the rising challenge of climate change, and global energy and food pressures. Small businesses have had to embrace innovation and diversify to remain trading, but what does next year hold? It’s a question that most small business owners will be asking as we move into 2023, and several recent surveys have been released which provide us with some insight.
1. Customer Acquisition = while keeping existing customers happy and gaining new customers will always be a priority for small businesses, the latest surveys suggest that customer acquisition is more important than ever. As many households are reviewing their personal budgets and scrutinising each and every purchase, ensuring that your business is the one where people choose to spend their money is vital. Despite rising costs, many businesses are increasing their marketing spend as they look to raise awareness of their particular products and/or services.
2. Use of Technology – embracing new technology has been a key trend over the last couple of years as the pandemic forced many businesses online, and it’s one that appears to be here to stay. For retail businesses ecommerce is a clear priority – with 60m e-commerce users, it’s essential for any retail business to have an online presence. But when research suggests that small businesses with a website are 51% more likely to grow than those without, its arguably essential for all businesses. Even more so now that we are seeing the rise of the online review.
While 43% of small business owners still consider word of mouth recommendations to be the most important, the numbers of people who do a quick search online to check the reputation of a business is rising. One other area of technology use mentioned in the Vista survey was the increasing use of social media by businesses. Acknowledging that these platforms bring product and brand awareness, can garner support and enhance reputations too.
3. A Flexible Approach To Staffing – in June 2022 we saw the introduction of the 4-day working week trial. At the halfway pointt, 86% of companies involved were seeing benefits and thought it was likely they’d keep the model in place. These advantages ranged from productivity to staff wellness and happiness. Proposed changes to legislation will give workers the right to request flexible working arrangements from day one in a job.
This is another area where changes introduced during enforced lockdowns have changed the working world for the long term. For many companies recruitment remains an issue, and offering flexible working arrangements will help says the Government. For one firm for which all staff now work 4-days a week say they’ve seen a five-fold increase in vacancy enquiries.
4. Sustainability – with the UK hosting COP 26, and with the royal family lending their support to the Earth Shot Prize, 2022 has been a year when many businesses have looked to reduce their environmental impact and operate sustainably. But have rising costs thwarted some in their green ambitions?
When it comes to switching to greener transport that appears to be the case. A NatWest report revealed that while 81% of SMEs they surveyed want to introduce electric vehicles to their business’s vehicle fleets, rising costs and electricity bills are holding them back. In their latest sustainability report they noted that “the business outlook contributed to a fall in the prioritisation of sustainability action among UK firms with 1-249 employees.”
While switching to new technologies or introducing new more-sustainable business practices maybe delayed due to cost concerns, SMEs are aware that sustainability is a key consumer concern, with more looking to launch sustainable products. We’ve also seen campaigns such as that from Surrey Hills promoting ‘shop local’ to reduce a product’s carbon footprint.
We’re fortunate in the Surrey Hills region to have a wealth of small businesses that give us access to a range of great products and services providing us all with the ability to buy more sustainably while giving a boost to our local economy too.
What Insurance Does A Small Business Need?
One trend that never changes is the need for all small business owners to ensure that their businesses are adequately protected.
Business insurance is a flexible policy that can be tailored to the size and type of many businesses. It can provide cover against a range of risks, including:
- Business premises
- Staff injury
- Compensation claims from members of the public
- Business interruption
- Cyber attacks
Whether a firm needs public liability insurance or commercial buildings cover, stock cover or professional indemnity insurance, a business insurance policy could cover all of these needs in a single policy.
All businesses are different, of course, and business insurance through Coversure Guildford can be adapted to cover the risks specific to each one. If you’d like to know more, please call us on (01483) 339623 and we’ll be happy to help.
How Will Small Businesses Fare In 2023?
There’s no denying that many SMEs will be face challenges caused by the UK economic uncertainties in 2023. Many business owners will be taking stock and reviewing their situations. Attracting new business while retaining existing customer bases will be key. In order to do that companies will need to have the right staffing levels, the right level of exposure, the systems in place to facilitate and support their business processes and ultimately offer the products and services that consumers need.
By continuing the focus on the needs of the people that work for them and purchase from them, we hope to see our fellow Guildford-based business owners not only survive but thrive in 2023.
Looking For Business Insurance Help?
No matter what type of business you own – from shops, cafés, to care-homes and the trades – Coversure Guildford can provide your business with friendly, local and independent business insurance advice. From our offices at Milestone House, Millbrook, Guildford, we offer a comprehensive range of commercial vehicle and business insurance policies. For a free, no-obligation insurance chat, call Coversure Guilford on (01483) 339 623, we’ll be only too happy to help.
Sustainability, SME priorities, agency evaluations: 5 interesting stats to start your week (marketingweek.com)
The essential guide to starting and growing an online business (smallbusiness.co.uk)
Four-day week trial ends and some firms make it permanent – BBC News
Employees can ask for flexible working from day one – BBC News
More than 80% of SMEs want to switch to electric vehicles | SME Magazine (smeweb.com)
SMEs plan to ramp up staff training in energy efficiency | NatWest Group
Look to Local and Shop Surrey Hills for Christmas Gifts and Festive Experiences
Business Insurance | Cheap Business Insurance Quotes | Coversure