Small business confidence returns

Following a concentrated period of uncertainty, our new research has found a significant proportion of small businesses are considering finance to enact their plans for 2021, as confidence "gradually returns".

Looking ahead to 2021, just over half (56%) of small business owners said they were considering taking finance for some of the plans they had set for 2021 - slightly up on the proportion in last year - 53% (Q4 2019).

This comes as confidence among small businesses has steadily been returning since the outbreak of coronavirus. In Q4 2020, over a quarter (27%) said they expected to grow in the next three months, up from 13% in Q2 2020. Meanwhile, the proportion expecting to scale back fell in this quarter, also to 27%, down from 59% in Q2.

    • Over half (55%) of small businesses turning to finance to enact plans for 2021 as confidence gradually returns
    • Fall in proportion of businesses looking to move to larger premises since 2019, while the proportion using finance to pivot into new market rises
    • Online businesses more likely to have plans involving finance than predominantly offline businesses

We found that online businesses were generally more confident about growth the next three months, and more likely to have plans to borrow money than offline businesses.

A third (34%) of businesses that operated predominantly online said they expected to grow in the next three months, compared with 20% of largely offline businesses.

(The research was conducted by YouGov among a representative sample of 1,107 small business decision makes in October 2020 spanning industry sectors).