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Infographic: SME Outlook 2014

How optimistic are business owners in the UK about their ability to grow in 2014? We surveyed SMEs to find out. One-hundred and twelve decision-makers in UK businesses containing 250 employees or fewer participated, and the results were very telling.

Even though access to small business funding remains an issue across the board, SMEs are definitely aspiring to grow in the near future.

SME Outlook 2014

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Are Things Looking Up For UK Small Businesses?

Spring 2014 SME Outlook

We surveyed over 100 small business owners, the backbone of the UK economy, to gauge their optimism for the future.

Cause for Optimism

Over a quarter of SMEs plan to secure funding for their business in 2014. Thirty-four percent identified growth and expansion as their most important goal for 2014. Thirty-three percent said profit was most important to their business this year.

SME owners are more optimistic than ever, with an overwhelming majority in the Northern regions hungry to grow.

Top regions with growth plans:

  • North East – 80%
  • Yorkshire & Humberside – 71%
  • West Midlands – 71%
  • South East – 71%

Over a quarter of SMEs cited access to funding as a business challenge from 2013, but more SMEs (29%) think that it will be a challenge in 2014. Thirty-seven percent said new customer acquisition was their biggest challenge last year. Thirty-three percent said it was marketing.

Which Industries Plan To Grow?

SMEs are eager to grow, that much is clear. Business owners in these industries said they plan to expand their operations in 2014:

  • Construction – 22%
  • Arts – 25%
  • Automotive – 33%
  • Transport/Travel – 40%
  • Education – 43%
  • Retail – 43%
  • Hospitality and Tourism – 60%
  • Animals/Veterinary – 67%
  • Healthcare – 67%
  • Financial Services – 73%
  • Computers/IT – 75%
  • Marketing – 83%

Where are SMEs Finding the Most Difficulty Obtaining Funds?

The SMEs surveyed were vocal about the issues their business faced, citing access to funding as one of their top problems.

Percentage of SMEs with trouble accessing financing:

  • North West – 64%
  • East Midlands – 60%
  • Wales – 50%
  • Yorkshire & Humberside – 43%
  • West Midlands – 43%
  • Scotland – 40%
  • North East – 33%
  • East – 33%
  • South East – 26%
  • South West – 22%

SMEs in the North were most likely to feel let down by their bank. Seventy-two percent of SMEs in the North West said they felt let down. Fifty-seven percent of SMEs in Yorkshire and Humberside said they felt the same.

Scotland and Wales showed the most optimism towards bank lenders. Twenty percent of SMEs in Scotland felt let down by banks. Twenty-five percent of SMEs in Wales said they felt the same.

Interestingly, the hunger to grow is strongest amongst SMEs in the Northern regions, whilst they actually experience the most difficulty when it comes to securing funding.

Is Access To Funding An Issue For My Industry?

Our survey also identified the industries with the highest proportion of SME owners who identify access to funding to be an issue for them:

  • Financial Services – 18%
  • Marketing – 25%
  • Computers/IT – 30%
  • Healthcare – 33%
  • Education – 43%
  • Arts – 50%
  • Construction – 50%
  • Retail – 57%
  • Transport/Travel – 60%
  • Animals/Vet – 67%
  • Fitness and Beauty – 67%
  • Property – 67%
  • Hospitality and Tourism – 100%

If SMEs Can’t Get Funding, Where Are They Turning?

Twenty-seven percent of SMEs would consider an unsecured business loan to grow their business. Thirty percent of SMEs would consider a bank overdraft.

Access to funding is one of the biggest hindrances to business growth in the UK. And yet, some SMEs are either reluctant or uninformed about alternative means of accessing capital.

There are plenty of viable business funding options available. It’s just a matter of determining which one is the best fit for your business.

Could your business use a boost in capital?
Call 0800 138 9080 today for more information!