One in five SMEs welcome back clients as economy stabilises
For the second year running, the top business opportunity for SMEs is the return of clients as the economy stabilises, according to a report from AXA.
One in five SME owners (21%) see this as a key opportunity for growth in 2023 – while 20% are looking to introduce new products or services, and 19% expect to acquire new domestic clients.
Increasing revenues through new sales channels, and sticking to new working patterns such as remote or hybrid working, complete the top five business opportunities for 2023, according to the poll of 500 SME owners.
And while a fifth of small business owners in 2022 saw the closure of competitors as something to capitalise on, this has now slid down the list, with just 12% saying the same this year.
Other priorities from 2022 that are less important now include implementing new technology to improve business efficiency.
Responding to the findings, Steven Mooney, founder and CEO of FundMyPitch said: “Confidence is king when it comes to allowing entrepreneurs reach their full potential, so it’s good to see an uptick in optimism during uncertain times. However, far too many business founders with bright ideas and impressive products lack the financial support they need to scale-up quickly. All too often, getting a credible valuation or even being taken seriously by potential funders remains an elusive prospective, even for those entrepreneurs who have already demonstrated they are building a profitable business.”
“The time has come to get behind Britain’s SME community, unlocking investment opportunities and driving growth with the same enthusiasm we often see in many other countries around the globe,” added Mooney.
Tech expert James Campanini, CEO of VeUP said: “SMEs are the beating heart of the UK economy and it’s encouraging to see market confidence returning despite stubborn inflation and the prospect of further interest rate hikes. However, as ambitious companies continue to roll out new products and services, it’s essential that owners get a grip and improve their IT infrastructure, so they are fully fit for remote working. Despite many companies prioritising cloud as their top investment this year, far too many SMEs are failing to manage cost optimisation, leading to inefficiencies that could hold back growth.”
Fintech entrepreneur Khalid Talukder, co-founder, DKK Partners said “Britain’s businesses play a crucial role in job creation, productivity and are a major driver of economic growth. It’s encouraging to see optimism for 2023 on the rise as businesses look to invest in new products, services as well as acquiring and expanding overseas. Key to driving SME growth is giving entrepreneurs access to international markets and the latest services to make international payments. This will unlock exponential growth and allow the next generation of companies to reach their full potential as a truly global business.”
The research comes as AXA UK launched its Start Up Angel competition, which is offering two prizes of £25,000 in funding, four £10,000 prizes for digital marketing campaigns, and mentorship with some of Britain’s best entrepreneurs.
Deepak Soni, director of SME business insurance at AXA UK, said: “Challenges provide opportunities, but it’s not always easy to capitalise on them.
“The last few years have been amongst the toughest for small businesses due to the Covid pandemic, so we’re doing our best to support and encourage those who have just set out on their journey.
“The AXA Startup Angel competition, which closes on Sunday, will provide an invaluable boost to a selection of small British startups.”
The 2023 report found SME owners are less worried about weak demand for their products domestically than they were 12 months ago.
Encouragingly, more than half (58%) said they have reached their main business goal since starting out.
For 22%, the core driver was to simply be their own boss, while 14% wanted to improve their work/life balance.