Small business owners are feeling overwhelmingly more confident about their prospects for 2021 following the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, according to research by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and Starling Bank.

The study of 500 SMEs found that 70% of small businesses owners are feeling more confident, suggesting the rollout of both the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will play a crucial role in restoring confidence across the economy.

The survey was conducted prior to the UK regulator’s approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, indicating that confidence would rise further as a result.

More than three quarters of respondents (77%) said they plan to hire more staff in 2021, with eight in ten planning to do this in Q1.

However, 42% of respondents do anticipate that they will need financial support in the new year. A minority (13%) predict that they will need this support in the form of a loan, with three per cent saying they intend to borrow from friends and family and the remainder unsure where they will find the money. Some 39% say they can survive in 2021 without recourse to additional financial support.

The survey revealed a snapshot of how small businesses intend to prioritise investment in 2021. Some 17% said they would increase marketing spend, 16% will focus on improving technology and 8% plan to spend on training more staff.

More than half (56%) of business owners said they will ask their colleagues to get the vaccine once it becomes available and most (74%) will be getting the vaccine themselves.

When asked how their business was expected to perform in 2021 men were far more confident than women that they would outperform 2020. On a sliding scale of 0-10 men rated their confidence level at 8.7 and women at 6.7. This may be due to the types of businesses they own.

There is no denying that there has been huge disruption and uncertainty for entrepreneurs and their businesses this year. However, as this survey has shown, there is a real feeling of optimism among the entrepreneurial community.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have witnessed so much resilience, tenacity and agility that has fuelled ongoing innovation and with the ‘new normal’, entrepreneurs will be at the forefront of finding opportunities that will lead to greater wealth and job creation in the economy.”

Francesca James, GBEA founder

Anne Boden, Founder and CEO of Starling Bank, said: “As we head into the New Year it’s great to see the continued resilience and optimism of many British business owners who have been hit very hard by the pandemic. At Starling we hope to continue to support them by listening to them and developing features that will help their businesses grow.”