How is 2013 Looking for SME’s in the UK?
No one can deny that this last year has been a hard one for small- and medium-sized enterprises in the UK, with banks being hesitant to loan money and customers being careful of how much money they spend. The Euro crisis has affected many businesses, whether directly or indirectly, and competition has never been fiercer. Those SME’s which have made it through these tough times are robust and adaptable, and it is likely that more of the same will be needed. With the start of a new year in front of us, it is perhaps the time to think about how 2013 will shape up for SME’s up and down the country.
It goes without saying that the biggest challenge facing small- and medium-sized business enterprises in the UK is the uncertainty surrounding the economy. Unemployment figures are reducing, interest rates are low, and yet there is a chance of a triple dip recession. It seems that the next report out contradicts the one before it, and so what then is the general outlook?
The latest survey on the matter comes courtesy of the Co-Operative Bank and YouGov, and paints a picture that is more optimistic than pessimistic. Around 44% of the SME’s asked believed that their orders and sales would rise in 2013, which given the circumstances, is great news indeed. Much of this rise was on the domestic front, although one in four businesses also predicted growth in their international orders. Of all the sectors asked, the financial services and accountancy sector at 58% and the marketing and advertising sectors at 64% were the most confident about growth in 2013.
Another positive aspect of the survey was that many SME’s were looking towards internal investment in staff and infrastructure over the coming year. One in five of the senior decision makers asked said that they were looking to embark on recruitment drives in order to expand their workforce. In addition to this, around a quarter of the same group surveyed said that they were looking to invest in equipment or premises during the same period. That SME’s are looking to drive their businesses forwards is a great sign amid news from larger corporations who often look at downsizing in times such as these.
Whilst the general theme of the survey was positive, there were still some concerns within the ranks of the management of SME’s in the UK. One of the most prominent was the state of the economy itself, with 76% saying that it was a major challenge to trading and business in general. Cash flow was also regarded as an issue with 37% of those asked, and rising energy costs were cited by 26% of respondents.
In general, one could say that SME’s are approaching 2013 with a cautious sense of optimism. Most believe that the worst is behind us and are ready to adapt and explore new markets in order to drive their businesses forward. Certainly, SME’s are seen as being vital for the recovery to the general economy, and the entrepreneurial spirit is alive, strong and kicking.