Simply Business homepage
  • Business insurance

    • Business Insurance FAQs

    Business insurance covers

  • Support
  • Claims
  • Sign In
Call Us0333 0146 683
Our opening hours

7 predictions for small businesses in 2024

5-minute read

Man standing at entrance to coffee shop
Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

15 December 2023

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

The turbulent economy and changing consumer habits have continued to be a challenge for small businesses this year, but that’s not stopping new trends and hopes for the future.

From legislation and tax changes to side hustle trends and entrepreneurship, here’s what we expect to see for small businesses in 2024:

  1. Uncertainty as a general election edges closer and bills remain high

Uncertainty as a general election edges closer and bills remain high

The next general election must happen by January 2025 at the latest, which means 2024 is going to be a campaigning year for all UK political parties. This can mean uncertainty over policies moving forward while businesses face anxiety about rising costs and energy bills.

Our SME Insights Report found that small businesses are spending considerably more on energy bills in 2023, with nearly half saying they’re spending 21 to 60 per cent more than they did in 2022. But with the Energy Bill Discount Scheme set to end in March 2024, businesses could be seeing even higher bills as the energy crisis is set to continue.

The fact that 63 per cent of businesses said they planned to increase prices (SME Insights Report, 2023) just goes to show the resilience and adaptability of the nation’s self-employed.

Simply Business surveyed small business owners in November 2023 to find out what they think the government should do to help:

  • 66 per cent said tax incentives and breaks
  • 34 per cent said increased funding to support with energy payments

We’ll be keeping an eye out for each party’s election manifesto and sharing the key promises for small businesses when we know more.

Tax changes you need to know about

If you’re self-employed, then make sure you’re aware of these changes to taxation and tax rates:

  • Class 2 National Insurance contributions will be abolished from April 2024
  • the Class 4 National Insurance contribution rate is being reduced from nine to eight per cent for the 2024-25 tax year
  • basis period reform is coming for the 2024-25 tax year and this could change how and when you report a business’s profit or loss
  • side hustle platforms (such as Etsy, Airbnb, and Deliveroo) have to report freelancers’ earnings to HMRC from 1 January 2024 – so it’s essential that you’re filing your tax return (if you’re earning over £1,000 in one tax year) and being honest about your income to the taxman

Continuing rise of side hustles

Running a side business saw a surge during the Covid-19 pandemic but is a trend that’s not going away. Whether out of passion or necessity, many more people are choosing the path of being their own boss (and the dreaded tax return process).

Side hustles allow people with an entrepreneurial spirit to dip their toes into the world of freelance work – whilst still employed in another job.

Side hustles cover a wide range of passions and business areas such as selling second-hand clothes, selling crafts on Etsy, or even trying out dropshipping or influencer marketing – which makes it no wonder that so many are drawn to it.

According to our SME Insights Report 2023, 40 per cent of established businesses started as a side hustle. With this track record of success, will more entrepreneurs take the leap?

Here are some of the popular side hustles we’ve seen grow in 2023, and could well continue into 2024.

Side hustle trend

% increase 2022-23

Food van / ice cream van

26%

Florist

18%

Craft stall

16%

Calligraphy

14%

DJ

9%

Massage

7%

Fitness instructor

6%

Personal tutor

5%

Data based on Simply Business customer policies taken out between 1 January 2022 and 20 December 2023, calculating year on year growth

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.

More young people starting businesses

We’re seeing a growing number of young people trying their hand at entrepreneurship since the pandemic and it’s likely to continue while side hustles remain popular. One Family analysed Companies House data and found there were 6,796 companies registered by 16 to 19 year olds in 2020 compared to just 5,729 in 2019 – that’s an increase of nearly a fifth (19 per cent).

Supporting the next generation to start small businesses is something Simply Business is going to be paying particular attention to over the next year, so keep an eye out for more news on that.

Considering going to university? We have a guide to businesses you could start while studying.

Tipping laws expected to change

Restaurant, bar, and café owners should be prepared for a change in tipping laws and gratuity practices making it illegal for employers to withhold any tips from workers. This includes tips made by both cash and card, and the government says they should be ‘distributed fairly and transparently’.

An issue that’s been widely discussed and consulted on since 2016, the new measures are finally expected to come into force some time in 2024. There’s still further consultation and secondary legislation to accompany these measures, so keep an eye out for any updates on our Knowledge centre.

Food businesses should also be aware of any potential changes to allergen labelling legislation.

Natasha’s Law was introduced in 2021 requiring all businesses to label products prepared and packaged onsite with a full ingredients list and allergen information. And a new campaign backed by the Food Standards Agency – Owen’s Law – hopes to build on this legislation to make it compulsory for dining restaurants to include all allergens on the face of their main menu.

Growing need for childminders?

While the government is expanding access to free childcare support for families in England, the industry is struggling to meet demand. Could that mean it’s a good time to consider starting a childminding business?

Analysis of Simply Business new customer data shows the number of childminders in the UK has grown by 70 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year.* This suggests that people are already looking at how to fill this gap in the market.

From September 2024, working families can access up to 15 hours of free childcare for children aged nine to 23 months. And this is set to increase to 30 hours from September 2025. As a childminder, this scheme is funded by your local authority.

*Based on Simply Business customer policies taken out between 1 January 2022 and 20 December 2023

Sustainability and shopping second hand will remain important

Consumers are increasingly looking to shop with businesses that can demonstrate sustainable practices, so tapping into this strategy is not only good for the planet but can be good for business too.

Shopping second hand is one trend to keep an eye on in 2024. Whether that’s selling on clothing apps like Vinted or opening your own online shop for repairs and custom made items, it’s certainly growing in popularity.

  • Etsy sellers should consider quality photography, customer reviews, and tagging keywords even more in 2024 as the platform’s latest algorithm update prioritises product listings that do this well
  • people are looking for authentic storytelling rather than obvious marketing – so brushing up on your social media skills and sharing your real experiences as a business owner can really help you reach your customers
  • the national living wage will increase to £11.44 from 1 April 2024

What are your small business predictions for 2024? Let us know in the comments below.

More news and guides for small business owners

Ready to set up your cover?

As one of the UK's biggest business insurance providers, we specialise in public liability insurance and protect more trades than anybody else. Why not take a look now and build a quick, tailored quote?

Start your quote
Photograph: Jacob Lund/stock.adobe.com
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

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

Categories

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

Insurance

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

About

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

Customer support

Contact & supportPolicy renewalMake a claimProof of policyComplaintsAccessibility

Address

6th Floor99 Gresham StreetLondonEC2V 7NG

Northampton 900900 Pavilion DriveNorthamptonNN4 7RG

Careers

Careers at Simply BusinessTech careersCurrent opportunities

Benefits

BenefitsRefer a friendFinance

Legal

Terms & conditionsPrivacy policyCookie policyVuln Disclosure policy

Knowledge

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.