Economic Uncertainty Stifles SME Growth

As much as £9 billion pounds could be added to the British economy if SMEs that aspire to grow were able to do so. Key barriers to growth, which need to be overcome, include economic uncertainly, regulation and market demand.

Based on research that shows that 74% of SME employers aspire to grow over a three year period, new insights show that if all of these aspiring businesses achieved growth at a rate of 5% over the next three years (above and beyond the 33% that are expected to grow) then an additional £9 billion would be contributed to the UK’s GVA (Gross Value Added). If they grew by 10% the additional contribution would be £18 billion.

Business Link research shows that when businesses were asked what was stopping them from growing, ‘economic uncertainty’ was raised by 48% of Business Link customers as being the largest barrier. ‘Market demand’ (22%) and ‘regulations’ (22%) ranked joint second while ‘cashflow’ came in third, with 20% of customers identifying this as a barrier to growth.

Barriers to business growth identified by Business Link customers:

1. Economic uncertainty 48%

2. Market demand 22%

3. Regulations 22%
4. Cashflow 20%

5. Competition 13%
6. Keeping staff 9%

7. Recruiting staff 8%

8. Lack of access to business advice 8%

To address these barriers and promote business growth, Business Link has launched the Growth and Improvement Service, alongside a number of other government initiatives being announced during Global Entrepreneurship Week (14 – 20 November) to help SMEs achieve the growth they desire.

The Growth and Improvement Service offers straightforward, practical guidance for people who want to get more out of their business – such as generating more sales, increasing profits, and saving time and money. The site, which is launched alongside Business Link’s Start-Up service, provides businesses with the support they need to improve and grow, providing guidance on cash flow, finding new customers, and recruiting and training staff.

Ray Lambe, Director, Business Link said, “It is encouraging to see that so many businesses are looking to grow and develop, despite the difficult economic environment they are operating in. While it is not surprising that SMEs are finding the economic environment tough at the moment, our research identified a number of other issues that businesses are grappling with which Business Link’s new services can help with. In particular, the new Growth and Improvement Service provides information and tools to help businesses manage staff retention and recruitment think through finance options and win new customers; and the increased interactivity helps businesses support each other by sharing their ideas and experiences. By helping to unlock barriers to growth we’re confident that the new Business Link services will help SMEs to make that vital contribution to the UK economy that they are capable of.”