Almost two-thirds of SME owners are forecasting a bright future with 65% anticipating growth of up to 40% over the next two years, according to specialist commercial finance provider Wesleyan Bank’s annual survey of UK small and medium sized businesses.
The ‘SME Heroes or Zeros 2018’ report reveals that 54% are feeling ‘more confident’ about their firm’s prospects one year on and just 11% are ‘concerned’ about the potential impact of Brexit. Despite an uncertain UK economy, the findings highlight a significant shift in defiance from business owners. 50% are adamant that Britain’s exit from the European Union will not dictate their firm’s strategy compared to 28% in 2017.
Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales at Wesleyan Bank, says:
“The UK’s economic outlook is often clouded by negativity, but this research highlights that SMEs are performing strongly and have built solid foundations to prosper, both pre and post Brexit. Unless there is a material impact on their business today, there is no reason why SMEs should put on hold their investment plans to sustain and maximise growth.
“By leveraging external financial support from specialist lenders, SMEs can benefit from flexible funding solutions to spread the cost of purchasing new equipment and technologies to gain a faster return on investment.”
Businesses are increasingly exploring alternative finance options rather than relying on traditional borrowing methods such as overdrafts, savings and credit cards to facilitate growth. Almost double (59%) the number of UK SMEs have used external funding on at least one occasion against only 30% in the same survey in 2016 with 27% stating that they now ‘regularly’ turn to external finance, up from 20% two years ago.
Attitudes to finance differ according to age and gender. Business owners aged 45 and above are three times more likely to have ‘never’ sought external funding in contrast to only a fifth of those aged between 18 and 29. In addition, female business owners (28%) are less likely to have utilised external finance than men (40%).
Paul Slapa comments: “With greater access to funding and lower interest rates, more SMEs are considering alternative finance as a growth accelerator and have a wider understanding of how it can benefit their business. Business owners should talk to their day-to-day bank but also compare which providers can support their firm at every stage of its lifecycle, with a range of tailored finance solutions.”