A fifth of SMEs have reinvested all their profits - just to stay afloat this year
A poll of 500 SMEs revealed the cost-of-living crisis (38 per cent), energy price hikes (33 per cent) and increased supplier costs (23 per cent) have eaten into margins.
As a result, plans to make their businesses more sustainable have been put on hold.
Just under half (48 per cent) said going green has been less of a priority, though 44 per cent think they’ll be able to do more in the next year.
The study also found almost half (48 per cent) believe eco-conscious businesses are more successful than those that are not.
Victoria Bacon, Smart Energy GB, which commissioned the research, said: “The economic climate has put Britain’s small businesses under a huge amount of pressure, so it’s understandable that they’re focusing on the essentials of running their business.
“But taking steps to reduce your environmental impact often delivers real cost savings too.
“Even small changes that aren’t expensive to implement can make a big difference to a business’ bottom line, as well as being good for the planet.
“Getting a smart meter is one small thing small businesses can do, as it can help them monitor their energy usage and identify where they can make changes, as well as keep a closer eye on cashflow."
Looking ahead, 43 per cent now feel in a better position to make their business more sustainable.
A quarter would finance eco-friendly changes by reducing spending on other areas of their business and the same amount would look for new revenue streams.
Just over four in 10 (43 per cent) want to reduce their carbon footprint so their energy bills go down - but 13 per cent think it will also make their staff happy.
And around the same amount (39 per cent) want to do their bit to ensure the planet is both healthy for future generations, as well as being less wasteful.
While others plan on moving to more environmentally friendly packaging (17 per cent), buying in bulk to reduce transport costs (16 per cent), investing in smart plugs (nine per cent) and getting light sensors (13 per cent).
In the medium term, 14 per cent of those polled were hoping to purchase an electric vehicle and 19 per cent want to replace old equipment with more energy efficient tech.
Being more eco-friendly topped the list of things small businesses owners said they’d do differently if they were starting their businesses again.
With taking control of energy usage and buying local where possible being the advice they’d give their younger selves to make their businesses more sustainable.
Victoria Bacon, Smart Energy GB, added: “Small businesses have an important role to play in helping Great Britain meet its net zero targets.
“Smart meters are an integral component of our national infrastructure upgrade to meet these targets, which will enable us all to increasingly use cheaper, cleaner energy.”