Research of 1,000 small-to-medium enterprise owners found 35 per cent managed to navigate the last 18 months better than they had expected.
Despite the challenges they faced, on average small businesses estimate they have grown by 6.2 per cent.
Spotting a new gap in the market, a strong social presence and online sales have been key growth drivers for many, while 24 per cent are experiencing more demand now than they were pre-pandemic.
To keep ahead of the game in future, a quarter have started putting funds aside in case there are further lockdowns or world-changing scenarios.
No furlough scheme
It also emerged three quarters of small businesses polled were able to get by without relying on the government furlough scheme.
While just under a fifth of those who did have to furlough staff now have all their team members back working – and a tenth have even taken on new recruits.
And 86 per cent said they managed to get through the entire pandemic without making any redundancies.
Lisa Jacobs, UK managing director, at Funding Circle, which commissioned the study into the state of the nation’s businesses, said: “As business owners reflect on the last eighteen months, it’s welcome to hear their experience has better-equipped them to handle any obstacles which may lie ahead.
“With the economy not quite out of the woods, the UK’s small businesses will continue to play a vital role in powering the recovery, and it’s exciting to see their confidence and optimism resulting in so many plans to expand and grow.”
Totally new customer base
The study also found that, over the next 12 months, a third will be taking the opportunity to reach a totally new customer base, and 29 per cent will be growing their online sales.
Just under a quarter (23 per cent) plan to launch new products, and one in four have plans to upgrade their social media presence.
But 27 per cent worry about making enough profit to keep up with their overheads, according to the OnePoll figures.
While three in 10 are also concerned about the rising costs of inflation, while 15 per cent expect the shortage of lorry drivers to cause stock delays.