Top business opportunities for SMEs in 2023 – like returning clients

Small business owners are no longer judging their own opportunities for growth by the demise of their fellow competitors, a study has found. An annual poll of 500 SME owners found many are now relying on diversifying revenue streams through new sales channels as something to capitalise on.

Increased consumer awareness about the benefits of using small businesses, and realising cost savings, such as reducing fixed costs like rent, are also among the top 13 opportunities identified for 2023.

In comparison to 2022’s list of opportunities, as voted by SME owners, introducing new technology to improve business efficiency is down, while expanding into new locations and opening branches have gone up.

Net Zero carbon emissions are also seen as an opportunity for business, which did not register among SME owners in 2022.

It comes as AXA UK launched its Start Up Angel competition, which is offering two prizes of £25,000 in funding, four £10,000 prizes for digital marketing campaigns, and mentorship with some of Britain’s best entrepreneurs.

Deepak Soni, director of SME business insurance at AXA UK, said: “Challenges provide opportunities, but it’s not always easy to capitalise on them.

“The last few years have been amongst the toughest for small businesses due to the Covid pandemic, so we’re doing our best to support and encourage those who have just set out on their journey.

“The AXA Startup Angel competition, which closes on Sunday, will provide an invaluable boost to a selection of small British startups.”

The 2023 report found SME owners are less worried about weak demand for their products domestically than they were 12 months ago.

Encouragingly, more than half (58 percent) said they have reached their main business goal since starting out.

For 22 percent, the core driver was to simply be their own boss, while 14 percent wanted to improve their work/life balance.

As 2023 continues, the key opportunity British SME owners see appearing is clients returning as the economy stabilises (21 percent).

A fifth are looking forward to introducing new products and services, and 19 percent expect to see an uptick in domestic clients.

But while closure of competitors was a big opportunity for 20 percent in 2022, this year that number drops to just 12 percent, according to the study carried out via OnePoll.

Deepak Soni added: “Small business owners seem less concerned about benefitting from the demise of competitors – focusing instead on launching new products and services, and reaping the benefits of clients returning to the market.

“We look forward to seeing how things may change in 2024’s report, hopefully putting Covid and other recent challenges further in the rear-view mirror.”

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