Cost of two weeks’ disruption to a small business estimated at £8,775

One in five small businesses would last less than a month in the event of being forced to halt trading, finds a new study

More than 550,000 small businesses in the UK have been forced to halt trading due to a disruption in the last two years, according to new research by small business insurer Direct Line for Business.
Destroyed stock and delivery vehicles breaking down are just a couple of incidents that have been known to cause a halt in business trading, while the average cost of keeping a small business afloat while unable to trade for two weeks is estimated to be £8,775.
The average small business believes that it would last around eight months and three weeks if it were forced to halt trading, with sole traders (nine months, one week) faring better than microbusinesses – businesses employing fewer than 10 people – (nine months) and small businesses (six months, two weeks).
Of those companies that have had to cease trading due to business disruption, the period of shutdown lasted, on average, more than three months. This will be of particular concern for the one in five (21%) small businesses that claim that they would not be able to survive if their businesses had to cease trading for more than a month.
Reduction in profit (48%), reduction in revenue (42%), loss of customers (39%) and putting personal money into the business (32%) were found to be the most common impacts of an interruption in trading on small business owners.
Table One: Most common effects disruptions have on a business
Effect of disruption
Percentage of small business owners who had experienced disruption in last two years
Reduction in profit
Reduction in revenue
Lost customers
Had to put personal money into the business
Used up cash reserves
Had to place expansion plans on hold
Forced to lay off employees
Had to borrow from friends and family
Forced to source credit to keep business afloat
Business failed
Source: Direct Line for Business 2016
Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business, said: “There are many reasons a business might need to halt trading and unfortunately a lot of them are unforeseen.
“Keeping a business afloat when there is a disruption can be stressful enough, especially when there are no funds being generated.
“Business owners must ensure they have adequate insurance to minimise any disruption should an incident occur. Business interruption insurance covers your business if your insured property has been damaged resulting in a loss of income.”

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Hannah Hamilton, who is a former Fife College student, is a reporter and assistant content editor for Scotland B2B, specialising in B2B news and features. She can be contacted via