Keep calm and carry on: SME’s big ambitions amidst uncertainty
Despite the headaches caused by rising costs, new research from Shawbrook reveals that UK SMEs are keeping calm and carrying on, with many senior decision-makers reporting success and plotting ambitious moves in the next 12 months. Indeed, three in ten (29%) of those surveyed reported their business had grown in the last year despite the turbulent business environment.
When asked about their key business priorities for the next 12 months ,18% stated that they were concentrating on consolidating their business with a further 17% eyeing up international expansion.
Recruitment was also highlighted as a key area, with 28% of respondents aiming to expand their teams by recruiting new talent and a further quarter (26%) focused on upskilling their teams.
Digitalisation was high on the priority list, with a fifth (21%) of those quizzed reporting they will be undertaking a digital transformation next year. Unsurprisingly, SMEs are still very much focused on the big picture as well, with a third (33%) focusing on improving productivity and more than a third (35%) looking to improve profitability.
In a sign that SMEs are not putting off big decisions, nearly one in five (17%) senior decision-makers expressed that prioritizing an exit strategy was a top concern.
Notably, SMEs with larger turnovers were more inclined to emphasize this goal, as almost a quarter (22%) of respondents from businesses with turnovers between £100 million and £500 million considered it a top priority. In contrast, among respondents from businesses with lower turnovers, only 12% shared the same priority.
A similar trend emerged among SMEs planning to expand through acquisitions. Among those with turnovers in the £100 million to £500 million range, over a quarter (26%) marked this as a key objective.
Conversely, only 6% of SMEs with turnovers below the £1m threshold had this objective in mind.
Neil Rudge, head of enterprise at Shawbrook said. “It’s reassuring to learn that not only are businesses surviving in the challenging environment but that a decent proportion are thriving and reporting growth. It demonstrates just how resilient SMEs in the UK are.
“Clearly future goals vary depending on where a business is in its journey, its size and its geography. However, whether it’s hiring new employees, expanding internationally, or succession planning, in order to succeed most SMEs will need some kind of funding. With mainstream finance retrenching from complex and often-pressing needs, it’s more crucial than ever for specialist lenders to step up and support our economy.”