Expansion plans on hold as SMEs feel the pressure

Small businesses have warned that they may have to halt expansion plans for next year if they cannot secure funding.

New data from Hitachi Capital Business Finance has found that nearly two thirds of businesses will need to put growth plans on hold if sufficient funding opportunities do not present themselves.

While most businesses are proving resilient in the wake of ongoing economic uncertainty - 38% of SMEs predict growth in 2018 - accessing finance remains a key issue.

Some 65% of firms have displayed concerns that their growth plans may have to be reshaped or changed entirely if they are unable to refinance effectively.

Most businesses say they spotted opportunities to increase their market share earlier in 2017, with many suggesting they were hopeful of taking advantage of Brexit uncertainty.

However, the drawn out negotiations and tough economic conditions have put firms on the back foot, especially those in the retail and construction sectors.

The latest research hints at businesses being open to new export market opportunities, but that a lack of funding to exploit those opportunities could be a major barrier to growth.

One in five company owners said that a lack of funding would severely impact their ability to invest in IT upgrades and systems.

This will grow in importance, as new data protection laws come into effect in April 2018 and the potential fines for non-compliance could force businesses into administration.

Technology systems to manage payments, online sales and to tackle cybercrime all require investment meaning firms may need to consider their refinancing options.

Hitachi Capital Business Finance Managing Director Gavin Wraith-Carter said that while SMEs are well placed to exploit opportunities that may result from Brexit, most plans require funding to succeed.

'At a critical time, the economic impact of small businesses being starved of business finance has never been clearer or more tangible,' he added.


By Phil Smith


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