Eight in ten small businesses taking positive steps to strengthen their enterprises in 2024


Eight in ten small business owners (81%) are planning to develop their companies in 2024. New research from Novuna Business Finance shows that over a third (33%) are focusing on new initiatives to increase income, whilst a fifth (20%) are looking to reduce their fixed costs.

With around nine in ten small businesses (89%) saying that they still feel the pressures from the cost-of-living crisis, there is an emphasis on increasing business income and sales this year across all sectors. Small businesses in the media and marketing sector were the most likely to say they are looking at new ways to improve their income and sales (52%), followed by small businesses in retail (42%) and IT and telecoms (40%).

Nationally, the top five initiatives small business owners are focusing on to secure growth include:

  • Increasing new business income/ sales – 33%
  • Reducing fixed costs – 20%
  • Diversifying the business, offering new service lines/ products – 18%
  • Planning ahead with business budgeting – 18%
  • Building up financial reserves – 17%

Across the UK, small businesses in the North East of England are the most likely to be prioritising particular strategies to strengthen their enterprise (89%), followed by small businesses in London (86%), and the South East (84%).

Small businesses in manufacturing and construction looking ahead

More than eight in ten (83%) small businesses in the manufacturing sector are looking to strengthen their enterprise this year, with one in five (21%) planning to diversify by offering new service lines or products to their consumers. A further 14% are planning to expand into new geographical markets.

Similarly, more than three in four small businesses (76%) in the construction sector are looking to grow this year, one in five (20%) are planning ahead by focusing on their business budgeting, and 18% are building up their financial reserves.

Employee recruitment

When it comes to making hiring decisions to bolster business growth, small businesses with 10-49 employees were twice as likely than the average small business to hire young people this year (16% versus 8%).

Across the different sectors, small businesses in finance and accounting were the most likely (18%) to hire young people – in contrast, medical and health services prioritised making senior hires who have specialist skills and experience (13%).

Rather than recruiting new employees, one in four (25%) hospitality and leisure businesses and over a fifth (23%) of manufacturing businesses are spending time investing in the people who already work at the company in the year ahead.

Jo Morris (pictured), Head of Insight at Novuna Business Finance comments: “Following the pressures of the festive period, it is positive that such a large proportion of small businesses are focusing on new growth initiatives as we start a new year. Whether growing, restructuring or consolidating, every business needs a plan and Novuna Business Finance will be there to support established enterprises that are working on strategies to adapt, grow and fulfil their potential despite the enormously challenging context.”