STUDY: British small businesses cautiously optimistic on 2020 outlook

British small business owners are feeling optimistic about 2020 despite the uncertainty and challenges facing them.

Nearly nine in ten (86 percent) are confident they will achieve their main goal in the upcoming year.

The study of 500 small business owners found their top 2020 objectives include substantially increasing revenue and growth and reaching new customers. Over one in five (22 percent) are also focused on generating repeat customers.

And although almost one in ten said the main reason they started their business was to earn more money – a third are yet to breakeven.

As a result, one in 10 consider this to be their main goal for 2020, although one in five are aiming to simply ‘survive the next year’.

The research was commissioned by Vistaprint – a leading online provider of marketing products and services to small businesses.

When asked how they are currently feeling about 2020, UK business owners are most likely to say they feel confident, optimistic and prepared.

However, one in five do feel apprehensive about what is to come.

The research also found a quarter of business owners admitted they see the upcoming year being a ‘struggle’.

This is due to more than half (52 percent) predicting political changes will have an effect on their business, while two fifths (38 percent) think they will struggle due to bills and expenses rising.

A further sixth are anxious about competitor companies opening nearby.

Simon Braier, Customer Strategy and Insights Director from Vistaprint said: While political changes and economic barriers are very real challenges facing Britain’s small businesses, our research shows that these factors haven’t dampened the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“It’s encouraging to see small business owners’ confidence and optimism going into 2020.

“The better they do, the more chance they have of generating jobs for local people, giving an economic boost to their community and continuing to provide significant value to customers.”

Despite these challenges, seven in ten small business owners admitted they don’t have a marketing plan in place for 2020, with nearly half (45 percent) saying ‘everything is going fine as it is’. A quarter (24 percent) would rather just ‘see what happens’.

Almost half – 48 per cent – believe the most important advertising channel in the upcoming 12 months will simply be word of mouth, while a quarter will rely on social media.

A further one in ten think email marketing and search engine optimisation will be most important for their business.

Vistaprint’s UK Market Lead Charlotte Holmes-Darby said: “Even if business is going well, in increasingly competitive markets small business owners cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

“Word-of-mouth marketing is and will likely continue to be one of the most effective forms of marketing for small businesses. But business owners should seize the opportunity to spread the word further by leveraging other offline and online channels and tactics to reach customers.”

It also emerged that on reflection, nine in ten (91 percent) business owners are pleased they took the plunge and started their own business.

For more than a third (38 percent) being their own boss was the main motivation for starting a company. This was followed by flexibility – with 14 percent wanting to decide their own hours – and job satisfaction according to one in ten.

Click here to see an infographic illustrating the key results.