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Plusnet Pioneers 2.0 - Results of what small businesses find the most challenging

Plusnet Pioneers 2.0 - Results of what small businesses find the most challenging

Plusnet Pioneers 2.0 - Results of what small businesses find the most challenging

Almost half (48%) of small businesses have found it difficult to raise funding, while over a quarter (27%) admit their marketing strategy has not been as effective as they’d hoped. To help small businesses overcome these common challenges, Plusnet Pioneers has returned for 2018 with a brand new panel of business experts to offer essential advice on securing funding and marketing your business.

Help is at hand to make customers and investors love your business

The findings highlight the need for support and advice for small businesses that are struggling with marketing and funding. This is why we’ve launched our Plusnet Pioneers campaign for 2018, and over the next few weeks we will be giving you everything you need to help your small business thrive from those in the know.

We’re on a mission to help start-ups and small business owners reach their potential,, the UK’s number one resource for starting a business, have partnered with Plusnet for the second year running, to launch the Plusnet Pioneers campaign for 2018. We selected a new panel of leading UK entrepreneurs to become our Plusnet Pioneers, and we will be sharing their unique insights and strategies that helped them build some of the UK’s most exciting and successful companies.

To kick-off Plusnet Pioneers this year, we asked start-ups and small business owners to share their experiences on two of the key issues they face on a daily basis: marketing and funding.

Our survey, carried out with, revealed that a third (34%) find attracting new customers their biggest challenge, followed by accessing finance (29%). Despite how crucial these two areas are to the success of a business, our findings highlight how difficult it can be for small businesses to get investors and customers to fall in love with their business.34% of businesses find attracting new customers the biggest challenge34% of businesses find attracting new customers the biggest challenge

 Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks and JamJar Investments, joins our Plusnet Pioneers panel to offer advice on both sides of the investment process, whilst Social Chain CEO Steven Bartlett, and Tom and James Exton from LDN Muscle join us as leading social media experts. Katie Massie-Taylor and Sarah Hesz complete our line-up for 2018 and they will be sharing their experiences of raising funding and creating their hit app, Mush, the socialising app for mums, by mums.

Their invaluable knowledge, first-hand experiences and entrepreneurial expertise, have been used to create must have tips that will help the next generation of UK businesses grow and succeed.

Our research was run alongside a roundtable discussion hosted with, bringing together the bright lights of the UK’s enterprise scene to talk about the challenges they’d faced in starting and growing their companies. Read more about this here.

Raising finance is difficult for half of UK start-ups

Of the 500 small businesses we surveyed, nearly half (48%) of you found it difficult to secure funding. Astonishingly only 4% said it was easy, while it took the majority who had successfully raised investment a tough two to four attempts (27%).48% of start-ups find raising funding difficult48% of start-ups find raising funding difficult


In fact, 40% were unable to raise any funding, with almost the same proportion of you believing your business was too young to secure investment. This highlights how difficult the process can be and suggests a struggle for new start-ups around the investment opportunities available.40% of start-ups haven't raised any funding40% of start-ups haven't raised any funding

Start-ups find pitching to investors intimidating

Although 29% of business owners spent months preparing to get their pitch investment-ready, over a third (35%) of you found it intimidating to pitch to investors. While entrepreneurs are known to be a self-confident bunch, the findings reveal how nerve-wracking pitching to investors can be – even for the most experienced.

Many start-ups could do with a helping hand to create hard-hitting marketing strategies

Over a quarter (27%) felt your current marketing strategy was not as effective as you’d hoped to attract new customers, while almost one in four (24%) admitted advice on how to improve on this would help.

Marketing isn’t a big investment for start-ups – but it should be

Surprisingly, marketing wasn’t a major focus. 58% of you claimed to spend less than 10% of monthly revenues on marketing your business. While just 5% spent more than 50%.

Start-ups spend less than 10% of their revenue on marketing each monthStart-ups spend less than 10% of their revenue on marketing each month

Many start-ups are struggling to get to grips with social media

One in five admitted to not using social media to market their business due to being unsure which social media channel are best for the business, while one in 10 (9%) admitted to not knowing how to advertise on social media. This highlights that help and advice on the many different social media channels, and how to use them effectively, are clearly needed.

Survey graphic #5.jpg

While social media is a challenge for some, it remains the most commonly-used marketing channel among small businesses. 58% of you reported that social media had proven to be the most powerful marketing channel for your company and 49% said that you had funnelled most of their marketing spend into platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On the flip side, outdoor advertising (4%), and TV and radio (2%) received the least marketing spend.

Plusnet Pioneers aims to inspire, inform, and support your business, and the millions of fellow small companies that make up 99% of the UK’s business population. 

For more information on Pioneers please visit our Plusnet Pioneers section.


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