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Navigating uncertainty: Owner managed businesses remain optimistic amid election and economic challenges

Navigating uncertainty: Owner managed businesses remain optimistic amid election and economic challenges

Matthew Meadows, Mark Lance

Our latest Moore UK Owner Managed Business (OMB) survey, conducted in June 2024, reveals a nuanced picture of the current business climate among UK business owners. While there has been a slight dip in confidence from December 2023’s high, largely attributed to sustained high business costs and uncertainties surrounding the upcoming General Election, the overall outlook remains positive. Despite these uncertainties, it’s encouraging to see that businesses remain confident that they will meet profit and revenue targets for the year ahead.

Key challenges and shifting concerns

High interest rates remain the most significant challenge for OMBs, though the concern has lessened compared to previous surveys. Inflation, while still a factor, is becoming less of an issue, but other cost pressures and staffing challenges persist. Notably, business costs and difficulties in staff retention and recruitment remain prominent hurdles.

Recruitment challenges are particularly impactful, with only a quarter of respondents reporting no difficulties in this area. This shortage is causing increased workloads, contributing to higher levels of absenteeism due to stress and burnout.

Recruitment trends and technological adaptations

Despite recruitment challenges, fewer businesses plan to hire over the next three months. Instead, many are turning to alternative solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) and initiatives to boost staff morale. An impressive 62% of OMBs are already incorporating AI in their operations, with more planning to do so in the future. AI is seen as a potential remedy for recruitment woes, capable of automating routine tasks and allowing employees to engage in more creative and fulfilling work.

However, the adoption of AI brings its own set of risks. Business owners need to be aware of these challenges and recognise the importance of implementing robust processes and procedures to mitigate potential downsides.

Cyber security and data protection concerns

Cyber security and data protection are top priorities for business owners, especially in light of the significant barriers they face in improving these areas, such as the lack of in-house expertise and the high costs of IT infrastructure and support. This focus is well-placed, as nearly a third of businesses reported experiencing cyber security or data protection issues in the past year. This underscores the necessity for businesses to enhance their defences to avoid vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks.

Political climate and business sentiment

The forthcoming UK General Election is another source of uncertainty. Irrespective of the election’s outcome, business owners want the next government to prioritise easing trade barriers with the EU and reducing Brexit-related red tape. These measures are seen as critical to fostering a more business-friendly environment and supporting growth.


Our latest survey highlights a landscape of cautious optimism among OMBs. While challenges such as high business costs, recruitment difficulties and cybersecurity threats persist, businesses are adapting through technological advancements and strategic planning. The political landscape adds an additional layer of uncertainty, but the overall sentiment remains one of resilience and determination to thrive in the face of evolving challenges. As the year progresses, it will be crucial for businesses to stay agile and proactive in addressing both existing and emerging issues.

To gather the data for this report, we surveyed 500 businesses with turnover between £1m and £30m in June 2024. Businesses were selected from across all sectors throughout the UK and in proportion regionally in line with ONS statistics for VAT registered and PAYE companies under 249 employees.

We’d like to thank everyone who took part – your feedback is much appreciated.