A new study by Vodafone suggests owners of small businesses around the country are bracing themselves for a turbulent and uncertain year ahead with more than a quarter (28%) of small and medium size businesses admitting they won’t be hiring any new staff over the next 12 months due to the current cost of living crisis.
The research commissioned by Vodafone looking into the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on UK small businesses has found the rising cost of gas, electricity and fuel for business use is the greatest challenge for half of small business owners (53%), followed by staff pay rise demands (47%), spiralling transport and distribution costs (30%) and more expensive raw materials (28%). Nearly all, (98%), small businesses said good connectivity was crucial to their business yet more than a third (35%) admitted they have downgraded, cancelled or considered cutting their broadband service to save money.
In response, Vodafone will from today offer free business broadband for a year to help small businesses mitigate rising business costs and stay connected to customers. Available from 19th October to 24th November, this new support package offers Vodafone’s award-winning business grade broadband free for 12-months on a 24-month plan and is available to all small businesses as well as existing Vodafone Business customers who are eligible to upgrade.
Andrew Stevens, Vodafone Business UK’s Director of Small & Medium Business said: “Small businesses are the cornerstone of our economy. But, after a turbulent few years and now in the face of rising costs, they need our support more than ever. We know that connectivity is vital to a business’s day-to-day operations and a key driver of growth, so Vodafone’s new offer of 12-months free broadband should provide some welcome relief for small businesses and allow them to stay connected to their employees and customers – at a time when they most need to.”
Lizzie Carter, founder of Only Curls comments: “The past couple of years have been challenging for small business like mine. First of all Brexit lost us all of our EU business, then the pandemic hit hard, and now the cost of living crisis combined with a rise in corporation tax is our next challenge to face. One thing that has helped my business financially is keeping my team working remotely, by avoiding additional rent or business rates, I have been able to invest in staff, stock and marketing to help my business grow. The team all enjoy working from home as it allows them more time with family, more flexibility on where they choose to live, and means no costs for commuting. Good Wi-Fi is essential for us, from all our virtual meetings, to marketing on our social channels, to banking, to running the website. Our e-commerce business simply would not exist without Wi-Fi.”
With nothing to pay on their broadband services for 12-months, small businesses can expect to save up to £348, providing much needed relief on an essential service to provide further support for small businesses, Vodafone Business is also offering new customers a £200 gift card for utility bills to help alleviate the pressure of rising costs a little. The limited offer will be given to new customers who purchase an Unlimited mobile plan.***
Once the initial 12-month period has passed, the monthly fee will revert back to the standard rate of £26 (excl. VAT) per month for Business Broadband Superfast 1 and £29 (excl. VAT) per month for Business Broadband Superfast 2. There will be a one-time fee of £20 to cover set up costs, with no further payment required until the 13th month.
The research, which surveyed 1,000 small businesses, found that despite tough economic conditions, small businesses remain optimistic with 43% saying they expected their business to grow in the next year.**** Indeed, 30% of business owners said the financial problems they faced had forced them to innovate and change the way they do things. Meanwhile, the rising cost of doing business had prompted around 1 in 10 (9%) to change their business or start a new one.
Vodafone unveiled similar offers of 6-months and 12-months free broadband during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to help small businesses struggling to stay connected to customers during lockdown. This new offer of 12 months’ free broadband on a 24-month plan is a continuation of the valuable support Vodafone has provided its consumer and businesses customers alike during the economic downturn which also includes:
- The V-Hub by Vodafone small business digital support platform which offers extensive resources on key aspects of operating in a more digitalised world and free access to an advisor either on the phone or online. The platform covers topics such as website creation, digital marketing, remote working and cyber security.
- Committing to upskill the digital proficiencies of 800,000 small businesses over three years as part of the business.connectedprogramme in partnership with Enterprise Nation.