Simply Business homepage
  • Business insurance

    • Business Insurance FAQs

    Business insurance covers

  • Support
  • Claims
  • Sign In
Call Us0333 0146 683
Chat With UsChat support 24/7

Rising costs and bills are major 2023 concerns for SMEs

2-minute read

Coffee shop manager on the phone
Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling

6 January 2023

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Small businesses owners’ biggest concerns for the new year include rising costs and not being able to pay bills, according to a survey of over 600 small business owners by Simply Business.

Read on to find out how small businesses and the self-employed are feeling at the start of 2023 after a challenging few years.

How is the cost of living crisis affecting small businesses?

Over four in five (81 per cent) small business owners are worried about how the cost of living crisis is affecting their business.

Not only are SME owners having to contend with rising costs and higher energy bills, they’re also dealing with the knock-on effects these issues are having on consumers.

Small business owner Antonia Sanchez-Toomey, who runs a high street shop in Enfield, London, said the cost of living crisis was the driver behind a downturn in sales in 2022.

She said her business, Tailor Made Living, a lifestyle store specialising in homeware, gifting and fashion, is in effect non-essential retail.

“The instability we are experiencing along with inflation at record highs means that consumers are understandably cutting back and afraid to spend,” she said.

She added that customers have expressed their fear of not being able to pay their bills and this has stopped them from buying non-essential items.

What are business owners’ main concerns for 2023?

Small business owners have revealed their top concerns and challenges for the new year, many of which are linked to ongoing uncertainty and the cost of living crisis.

  • 65 per cent see rising costs as their biggest challenge
  • 43 per cent are worried about their sales and customer numbers
  • 31 per cent are concerned by high inflation and interest rates
  • 26 per cent are worried they won’t be able to pay their bills this year
  • 22 per cent are concerned by supply and material shortages caused by ongoing geo-political unrest

A combination of these concerns have forced Antonia to cut back staff shifts and reduce opening hours.

She said: “I have stripped all non-essential costs out of our business. I am also selling a much smaller range of goods.”

Get small business guides and news straight to your inbox

Your email address will be used by Simply Business so that we can send you the latest guides, offers and tips. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time. For more information, check out the Simply Business privacy policy.

A tough few years for small businesses

The cost of living crisis follows the Covid-19 pandemic, which means many small businesses are still in recovery mode.

Our SME Insights report revealed that over two years on from the start of the pandemic, one in six small businesses didn’t think they’d ever financially recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Despite this, Antonia took some positives from 2020 and 2021:

“We grew our business during the pandemic by making changes and increasing our retail offering both online and in-store,” she said.

However, the long-term effects of the pandemic combined with the cost of living crisis and reduced festive trading means many small businesses aren’t feeling optimistic about 2023:

  • 60 per cent say their profit margins are down
  • 28 per cent say they’re unable to plan or budget due to uncertainty
  • 15 per cent have no confidence in their business heading into the new year
  • 10 per cent have been unable to order stock

Antonia added: “We're entering 2023 in poor shape, our turnover is down approximately 35 per cent year-on-year, and ultimately we could be contemplating closure.”

'Small business owners are inevitably feeling the squeeze'

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: “The self-employed are feeling the pressure of the current economic climate more than most, with some small businesses not receiving the much-needed boost during the festive trading period.

“Small business owners are worried about the impact the cost of living crisis will have on their business. This is having a clear impact on consumer purchasing behaviour, which is another blow. SME owners are inevitably feeling the squeeze as they struggle to pass on rising costs to their customers.

“The new year is an opportunity for a fresh start but without support, at both governmental level and from hard-working consumers willing to shop locally, there is concern that 2023 will be even tougher.

“We must support small businesses all year round, and there’s no better time to start as you mean to go on than January.”

Small business guides and resources

What are your major concerns at the start of 2023? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for self-employed insurance?

With Simply Business you can build a single self-employed insurance policy combining the covers that are relevant to you. Whether it's public liability insurance, professional indemnity or whatever else you need, we'll run you a quick quote online, and let you decide if we're a good fit.

Start your quote
Joshua Resnick/
Conor Shilling

Written by

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

Find this article useful? Spread the word.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Keep up to date with Simply Business. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media.

Subscribe to our newsletter


HomePopular articlesGeneral businessGuestInsuranceLandlordLandlord resourcesLegal and financeMarketingNewsOpinionProperty maintenanceTradesmanCovid-19 business support hub


Public liability insuranceBusiness insuranceProfessional indemnity insuranceEmployers’ liability insuranceLandlord insuranceTradesman insuranceSelf-employed insuranceRestaurant insuranceVan insuranceInsurers


About usOur teamAwardsPress releasesPartners & affiliatesOur charitable workModern Slavery ActSection 172 statementSocial mediaSite map

Customer support

Contact & supportPolicy renewalMake a claimProof of policyComplaintsAccessibility


6th Floor99 Gresham StreetLondonEC2V 7NG

Northampton 900900 Pavilion DriveNorthamptonNN4 7RG


Careers at Simply BusinessTech careersCurrent opportunities


BenefitsRefer a friend


Terms & conditionsPrivacy policyCookie policyVuln Disclosure policy


Knowledge centreOpinionsMicrosites

© Copyright 2024 Simply Business. All Rights Reserved. Simply Business is a trading name of Xbridge Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Registration No: 313348). Xbridge Limited (No: 3967717) has its registered office at 6th Floor, 99 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NG.