According to the FSB there was a 6.5% decrease in the number of small businesses in the UK in 2021. And while the UK rates the second best in Europe for business survival at 5 years, it is still at a pitiful 45% with on average 1 in 5 businesses failing.
Going it alone can be exciting and rewarding but it can just as easily be demoralising and cost you your life savings and even your health and home.
The pandemic had a catastrophic impact on small business in the UK, but Chef Paul Boorman, Therapist Helen Watson and Accountant Isobel Chaplin are all shining examples that sustainable growth and success are possible even in a pandemic.
Isobel Chaplin set up her own accounting practice just before the pandemic and within 2 years has become a multi award wining business owner (already winning another award in 2022), and has just taken on her first member of staff, Isobel said “My ambition was to step away from making money for someone else and be in charge of my own destination whilst supporting other small businesses, I was concerned about how to learn everything I would need to do this but I’ve been very happy in my own self-employment journey.”
Paul Boorman, a Top UK MasterChef has worked for some of the top destinations in Essex and The UK and took a diversion into the White Label Detroit Pizza company. By creating inch thick toppings on unique ‘bake-at-home’ pizzas delivered to customers across the county, fans have been indulging in them by their 1000’s throughout the pandemic. “I didn’t expect to be opening multiple shops for pizza sales in a pandemic, but we are now in Colchester and Maldon, taking on staff and looking at new venues. The interest in the unique Detroit style pizza has fuelled an Essex-wide pizza base craze we weren’t expecting.”
Helen Watson not only grew her psychotherapy practice in the pandemic, Helen took on new premises and is now helping other therapists too “I’ve always had a base in two towns in Essex to be accessible to clients and whilst the first lockdown was a challenge, adapting to working with clients online during that time not only meant I could continue to work with my clients but actually turned out to be a useful way of widening my reach. The ability to continue with in-person therapies though has been a vital part of my business and although I worried it was poor timing in a pandemic to invest, I have found that having my own premises has helped my business grow to its best profits since I started trading and 2022 is looking exceptionally attractive for further growth.”
So, what does the Chef, the therapist and the accountant have in common? The Business Woman’s Network, set up by coach and author Mandie Holgate in 2009 is an organisation that supports the growth of business owners. Formerly aimed at women in business its reputation means that business men turn to the BWN for support and ideas too.
Mandie said “At the start of the pandemic I asked our members what they needed to survive the pandemic and its aftermath and the response was huge. Many had no trade at all, and we helped them create online businesses and others wanted to know how they could grow and sustain growth regardless of what the pandemic threw at them. Through my own coaching, the experts we bring to the group and the expertise of the business owners in our mastermind group we find that everyone has supported each other and there have been a lot of success stories.”
Mandie added “Moving into 2022 we are hosting free networking and business growth events for our members. Our members are across the UK, with a growing number of expats based around the world, we want to be there for them for these fast changing times.”
Despite the worrying news on the success rate of businesses, a study by UHY, the international accountancy network, shows that there were 726,000 new businesses created in the UK in 2020 compared to just over 636,000 in 2019.
And in March 2021 more new businesses were created than in any other month since records began in 1989. (Data from HRMC).
The big concern for small business looking to grow.
Mandie said “An issue we’ve seen increasingly in the last 12 months is that business owners have invested between £5 and £8000 on support and training to grow their business with little to no results. The industry is not regulated, and business owners often turn to social media to ask for help, which is often a place of outdated, poor, or sometimes even illegal advice that costs businesses thousands but with no return on their investment. That is why our mastermind group is confidential to ensure you know the quality of experts you are accessing will be accountable to what they say. Something often lacking from social media and it’s part of why we see so many success stories. We have deliberately kept the cost very low so that no matter where you are on your business journey our support is accessible to you. We really want to see more business success across our region in 2022.”
As we move into a year of uncertainty for small business it is reassuring to see businesses in our region are riding the pandemic wave to bring new jobs, opportunities businesses to the county.
The BWN is a multi-award-winning organisation recognised by government, the Bank of England and enterprise for its work supporting SME’s in the UK.
Mandie Holgate is a multi-award winning global speaker, author and coach, writing 2 highly acclaimed books Fight the fear and Taking Control Of Your Mind. Her clients include the NHS, Virgin Care and WH Smiths. Mandie specialises in coaching business teams and business owners. This year her husband has had a stroke, open heart surgery, a blood clot and multiple surgeries for Thyroid surgery, yet her own business has also grown and supported more UK based businesses than in any other year since its launch in 2009, showcasing those obstacles and adversity does not define your success or resilience.
The BWN Insiders is £10 per month and accessible to all professionals, charities and business owners.