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Britain’s small businesses share secrets of pandemic survival

  • 62% of small businesses (SMEs) say revenue has increased over the last two years
  • 48% have increased their staff numbers over the last two years
  • 43% have managed to grow by pivoting their business to include something else
  • 80% are concerned about how rising energy costs might affect their business

Monday 23rd May 2022: Over half (62%) of Great Britain’s small businesses have seen their revenue increase over the last two years, according to a new survey released today. But with energy prices on the rise, 80 per cent also said they were concerned about how these rising costs might affect their business.

The study of 500 SME owners was commissioned by Smart Energy GB. It found that nearly half (48 per cent) have increased their staff numbers over the last two years, with 43 per cent saying they managed to grow by pivoting their business to include something else. Another 45 per cent put their success down to investing time in their social media presence, to help drum up business.

The research also found 43 per cent of those polled have cut down on their overheads by encouraging staff to work from home more, and 45 per cent attribute their growth to an investment in technology.

Despite managing to stay afloat and even thrive during the pandemic, many are preparing for more turbulent times ahead. The survey found that 80% are concerned about how rising energy costs might affect their business and nearly a third (31%) are keeping a closer eye on how much they are spending on energy throughout the day. Over a quarter (27 per cent) have had or requested a smart meter installation, to help mitigate these concerns. A further quarter have also looked into options to use greener energy sources.

Nearly half (46 per cent) also believe they are still a few years away from accomplishing their business goals, and another 34 per cent admit they’re still quite far away from accomplishing what they hoped to do when they first started

The top goal for the majority of respondents over the next year is simply to bring in more money (35 per cent). Second on the list was updating the company website (29 per cent) followed by working on generating returning customers (27 per cent).

Victoria Bacon, Smart Energy GB, said:

“Many small businesses have shown incredible resilience and agility during the pandemic, but they’re also concerned about how rising energy costs might affect their business. When you’re focussing on trying to keep a business running smoothly, anything that helps make the day-to-day challenges a bit easier can be a welcome relief.

“Smart meters send accurate energy readings direct to your supplier so you don’t have to, freeing up more of your time to focus on other areas of your business. Installations normally take about two hours and are scheduled in advance so that you can make any necessary arrangements beforehand to ensure minimal disruption to your normal working day.”

To help other small businesses weather the difficult times ahead, owners of other British SMEs have shared their top 10 tips on how to survive - and thrive - during times of disruption.  

Jordan Perata from Kilo, a Zero Waste shop in North London, Josh Kay from experiential design agency The Syrup Room in Bournemouth and Tash Gorst from We are Gather, a social enterprise in Peckham, have all seen their companies prosper.

A key survival tactic for Tash at We are Gather was being able to pivot the company’s organisations quickly.

For example, increasing their social media presence and providing a ‘click and collect’ service for vulnerable customers.

Gaining the customer’s trust and keeping them informed of any changes were also pivotal in trading during the pandemic.

All the businesses have also taken measures to become smart with their energy usage to lower their overheads amid rising costs. 

Standard light fixtures at Jordan’s London shop have been replaced with LEDs and the store runs solely on renewable resources.

Similarly, The Syrup Room uses a fleet of only electric cars and vans.

Tash from We are Gather said: “As a business with an environmental mission, we're hyper aware of our energy use.

“For the sake of the planet and future generations, we all need to use less energy and be more efficient with the energy we do use.

“We limit our electrical items to the core few that are essential to our business, and when buying new we only go for efficient models."

“Whenever something's not in use, we turn it off at the wall - nothing is left on standby, ever.”

Contact your energy supplier to see if you are eligible for a smart meter installation, or visit to find out more.


  1. Replace standard light fixtures with LEDs to reduce energy consumption
  2. Switch to a renewable energy provider
  3. Request a smart meter from your business’ energy supplier to ensure your bills are accurate
  4. Keep your outgoings low wherever possible
  5. Don't wait until everything's 'perfect' to start something
  6. Be flexible and quickly adapt to changes
  7. Communicate changes to loyal customers
  8. Increase social media presence to help find new customers
  9. Be patient and break your goals down into smaller achievable actions
  10. Make sure your appliances are working efficiently


  1. To bring in more money
  2. To build a new/updated website
  3. To generate returning customers
  4. To decrease working hours
  5. To reach a new customer base
  6. To break even
  7. To release new products
  8. Simply survive the year
  9. To give money back to the local area/community
  10. To reduce my energy consumption