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 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. 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.

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 48%
Reduction in revenue 42%
Lost customers 39%
Had to put personal money into the business 32%
Used up cash reserves 32%
Had to place expansion plans on hold 23%
Forced to lay off employees 16%
Had to borrow from friends and family 10%
Forced to source credit to keep business afloat 10%
Business failed 6%

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.”