"New technologies will hasten a far greater consciousness towards the biggest killer of small businesses."
A quarter of small business owners believe their company will go bust within the next five years, according to a survey by global small business platform, Xero.
Four in 10 SMEs said they are currently enduring the most turbulent period they’ve ever experienced as a business owner.
SMEs said their biggest challenges include late payments (54%), cyber-attacks (27%) and tax rates (44%).
Other challenges include the cost of staff recruitment (19%), maintaining or increasing levels of productivity (31%) and uncertainty over Brexit (44%). 25% raised concerns about the rising cost of rent and 24% worry about retaining staff.
The increasing cost of importing goods and materials (30%) is also giving owners a headache, as are the costs associated with running a green or sustainable company (23%).
It also emerged the pressures of running a modern small business have impacted the mental health of more than a third.
Being their own boss has also dented their wallets - on average, they have pumped £11,846 of their own money into their business and for 26%, their business is leaving them out of pocket.
Gary Turner, MD and co-founder of Xero, commented: “The ways small businesses work now are dramatically different from the 1980s when the first personal computers arrived. But business needs to adapt to greater changes coming their way.
"New technologies will hasten a far greater consciousness towards the biggest killer of small businesses. Cash flow problems will decline as instant payment technologies take root as a cultural norm. I believe what we’ll see is 30-day payment terms going the way of the fax machine.”
Emma Gannon, author, podcast host and contributor to the report, added: “We are in a time when young people are job-hopping more than ever, and the pressure is on for companies to retain their employees.
“This means adapting to the changes that are here right now and coming in the next few years.”