Market Data

Nearly 1 million SMEs do not have an emergency fund


In the midst of increasing energy bills and corporation tax, an estimated 998,460 SMEs* do not have an emergency fund.

A staggering 30% of SMEs have had to make redundancies to cut costs in 2024 due to the current market conditions.

A recent SME insights report by Dojo, who specialise in card payments for independent and enterprise businesses, has shed light on the challenges faced by UK small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Dojo surveyed 1,001 SME owners in the UK (including microbusiness owners) aged 18+ to find out how businesses manage their finances in 2024. This included asking questions about cash runway, emergency funds, anticipated profit and revenue in 2024, the biggest business challenges, and where businesses borrowed money.

Emergency funds and cash runway

Out of 1,000 SMEs surveyed, 18% admited to having no emergency fund. With 5,547,000 SMEs in the UK, this could mean an estimated 991,800 SMEs don’t have an emergency fund. 

Of business owners whose companies turn over up to £100,000 a year, one in four (25%) have no cash runway to support them, with 48% admitting to having no emergency buffer at all. The average cash runway for companies that turnover £100K is ​​2.94 months. 

Of these businesses, 38% have said they don’t anticipate growth in terms of revenue and profitability in 2024 – the lowest out of all SMEs surveyed. 

As companies start to grow and turnover more a year, we see a trend in cash runway increasing. For companies that turnover between £1 million and £500 million, the average cash runway they have is six months. 

Of business owners who turnover £500 million or more, over 30% admit to not having an emergency fund in place if any issues were to arise. 

Business turnoverNumber of months cash runway% of business owners with no emergency fund
Under £100,0002.9448%
£100,000 – £999,9996.4918%
£1 Million – £9.99 Million6.6310%
£10 Million – £49.99 Million6.2815%
£50 Million – £99.99 Million6.8015%
£100 Million – £499.99 Million6.4024%
£500 Million or over6.2931%

Cost-cutting measures

Overall, 36% of SMEs have had to optimise bills and increase rates and prices due to the current market. 

For business owners that have 100-249 employees, their top cost-cutting measure in 2024 was closing down offices (40%) followed by cutting production costs (39%). 

30% of these sized businesses have had to make redundancies as a cost-cutting measure. 

For companies that turnover £500 million or more, 42% of them have had to make redundancies in 2024. This is above the average of 30% out of all business owners surveyed. 

35% of businesses with 50-99 employees have had to make redundancies in 2024 – the highest out of all company sizes.

Size of the company (employees)Cost cutting measure
1-9Increasing rates/price
10-49Optimising bills
50-99Increasing rates/price
100-249Closing down offices

Borrowing money

For SMEs that turnover £100K, the average amount borrowed for their business was £33,867 with business owners most likely going to their family (33%) or using personal credit cards (33%) to access these funds. 

Business owners that turnover £50-99.99 million borrowed over £90,000 for their business, with the most common source of borrowing the funds being a private loan (37%) followed by private investors (36%) and friends (29%).

Business turnoverMoney borrowed for their business (£)
Under £100,00033,867
£100,000 – £999,99958,069
£1 million – £9.99 million87,680
£10 million – £49.99 million84,408
£50 million – £99.99 million90,665
£100 million – £499.99 million94,307
£500 million or over104,916

*The estimate of 998,460 SMEs was calculated by multiplying 18% (% of SMEs with no emergency fund) by number of SMEs in the UK (5,547,000) as quoted by GOV data.