Cost of living crisis: Manchester small businesses struggling to grow in light of rising costs and lack of investment

·5-min read
Cost of living crisis: Manchester small businesses struggling to grow in light of rising costs and lack of investment

The majority of small business (64%) in Manchester say that for the first time ever, they are facing inflationary pressures across all parts of their business – from supply chain, to energy, to wages and rent – which is having an adverse effect on investment in skills and training, according to new research from eBay UK.

Almost six in 10 (58%) of the small business owners surveyed said that their finances were ‘stretched’, leading many to fear the knock-on impacts that this will have on their business. Worries about future growth are a clear concern, with 71% of small business owners stating that rising costs, alongside inflation, will hold them back from investing in their business. For some, the impacts are more worrying. Four in 10 (40%) said that it could force them to let people go, whilst almost a third (31%) said that a lack of investment could force them to go bust.

This is not to say however that the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit isn’t thriving, with growth ambitions very much on the radar of small businesses in Manchester. Focusing on supporting these entrepreneurs to start up and scale up their businesses will be a key way to ensure that the government’s levelling up ambitions become reality, for all parts of the country, including the North West.

The new research of small business owners comes from eBay, who will this month bring the national eBay Business Roadshow to The Lowry at MediaCity on the 27th and 28th May.

Launched in Sheffield last month, this is the company’s first ever physical regional roadshow and investment programme in the UK, where it will turn up at the doorsteps of small businesses across the country, helping entrepreneurs to both start up and scale up their online businesses.

In partnership with Small Business Britain and the British Chambers of Commerce, the event will include speeches from Kumaran Adithyan, Director of Trading at eBay, and Michelle Ovens OBE, founder of Small Business Britain before a packed afternoon of informative sessions and networking for businesses in the region.

eBay is offering up to £1m of dedicated support as part of the Roadshow, and will offer Mancunian businesses attending the Roadshow thousands of pounds worth of funding grants in addition to support packages.

Business Clinics with eBay, Small Business Britain and the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce will also be held on-site, providing free 1-2-1 advice and solutions to address the challenges of budding entrepreneurs and small business owners – from marketing to accessing finance to selecting the right delivery provider. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from successful local businesses, including Sustain Furniture, who set up on eBay in the midst of lockdown and have now built a successful business with annual sales of over £350,000.

Small businesses can sign up to attend the event here.

Murray Lambell, General Manager, eBay UK said: “Small businesses have weathered constant challenges over the past two years, and while they deserve huge credit for their resilience, they’re under even more pressure now in the face of the cost of living crisis. Many of the Manchester businesses we’ve spoken to have told us how rising costs, combined with the lack of investment in skills and training, are holding back their growth and knocking their confidence. I’m looking forward to heading to Manchester as the next stop on the eBay Business Roadshow to deliver the training and support needed to help entrepreneurs build thriving businesses for the long-term.”

Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder of Small Business Britain, said: “eBay has a long heritage of supporting small businesses so we’re delighted to be partnering with them to bring the eBay Business Roadshow to small businesses in Manchester. Initiatives like this will help them move past the challenges of the past two years and look ahead to recovery and growth, providing much-needed support networks, training and funding. We can’t wait to meet Manchester’s fantastic entrepreneurs - and for them to meet other the amazing businesses attending to continue this local peer support together."

Mark Brown is the Manchester-based founder and CEO of Editors Keys, a business that specialises home recording equipment and keyboards, which he’s run for more than a decade along with a YouTube channel that has more than 130,000 subscribers. He’s now set up a new venture, Buckle and Band, selling a stylish range of straps for Apple Watches, and will attend the event.

Mark commented: “When I first started Editors Keys, I took a real punt, scraping together every last bit of cash and trying to build relationships with manufacturers and suppliers, without really knowing where to start. eBay gave me my first leg up to start selling my products to customers so that now I have the resources to start a new business venture, new podcast, and even establish a community on my YouTube channels. It’s fantastic to see eBay rolling out this new initiative to help entrepreneurs and small businesses get the information they need to follow their dreams.”

Natalie Mather, co-founder of Manchester-based business, Sustain Furniture, and also speaking at the event, said: “My husband and I started our business in the midst of the pandemic, which was a challenging time to say the least. Having an online platform like eBay was vital to our success as we were able to reach buyers from all over the country, even while we were stuck at home. We’ve since started running our business full-time, opened a shop in Stockport which we have now outgrown and moved to a warehouse in Trafford Park, and taken on several employees – which we’d never have been able to do without the running start we got through eBay. I’m looking forward to meeting other businesses at the Roadshow, so we can continue building a thriving entrepreneurial community in Manchester.”

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