A new poll of business owners has found that a greater focus on work-life balance and a rise in side hustles are key business trends for 2022; however, worries about inflation remain.
A survey of 2,500 business owners by the British Business Excellence Awards has found that the pandemic has brought about some welcome changes in the UK business landscape.
Eight in ten business owners polled said they actually have a better work-life balance since the pandemic and they plan to maintain this into 2022. In addition, over half of the business owners polled (63%) said they now have more "me time" - including time for exercising (45%) and more time with friends and family (40%). Overall, 90% of those polled said there will be a greater shift towards employee wellbeing in 2022.
Rise in side hustles
The findings also suggest that there will be a marked increase in the number of Brits starting side hustles this year, with 85% of respondents predicting a spike in the number of entrepreneurs looking for an additional source of income in 2022. Around 60% of respondents said they already have a side hustle and 30% made more than £1,500 per month over the past year in addition to their yearly salary.
Another key trend identified in the study is card-only businesses, with 45% of respondents predicting a rise in the number of businesses that will only accept card payments. Around 30% of respondents believe this change has been accelerated by the pandemic; however, 60% fear that vulnerable customers that prefer to pay in cash will be left behind.
Sarah Austin, founder of the British Business Excellence Awards, welcomed the findings. "It is interesting to see the business and entrepreneur predictions for the year ahead; after such a turbulent year in business I am in total agreement that employee wellbeing will be at the forefront of the mind of any business … I believe the UK business predictions for 2022 are, on the whole, positive, and with the prospect of more people adopting a side hustle, it will be fantastic to see new business ventures emerging."
Inflation and rising prices
However, worries about inflation are still prevalent. New research by small business lender Iwoca has found that 71% of SME leaders say inflation is their biggest concern regarding the economy going into 2022. Worryingly, the survey results also show that only 28% of small business owners expect their turnover to grow this year and 80% say they won't be hiring new employees in 2022.
Echoing these concerns, the latest quarterly economic survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has found that 58% of small firms expect their prices to increase in the next three months and 66% of businesses say inflation is a concern. In addition, one in four (27%) of firms are worried about rising interest rates.
Suren Thiru, BCC head of economics, said: "The record rise in price pressures suggests that a substantial inflationary surge is likely in the coming months. Rising raw material costs, higher energy prices and the reversal of the VAT reduction for hospitality are likely to push inflation above 6% by April."
Written by Rachel Miller.