The biggest challenges facing UK SMEs

Small businesses across the UK face a number of challenges relating to their everyday operations, but now new research has highlighted their biggest struggles in 2014.


Accessing funding, recruiting and increasing business costs were named as some of the leading issues faced by business owners under current economic conditions.


Auto-enrolment and cash flow issues are also points of concern for start-ups in the UK, according to the study of 500 UK SMEs by Conference Genie.


The biggest issue for start-ups is access to funding, while increasing costs for energy and transport were highlighted by 21% of those questioned.


Recruiting a talented workforce – a factor made more difficult by an apparent skills shortage in the UK – was identified by 36% of SMEs in the retail, health and fitness, technology, finance and travel industries.


This placed it above dealing with issues such as staff training and staff turnover when looking at challenging human resource processes.


Staff morale was highlighted as having a key impact on productivity with 25% suggesting social outings kept both morale and motivation high.


Setting realistic goals for staff that ensures they are not overworked is also an important aspect when looking to keep morale up.


In a bid to tackle these issues, around a quarter of SMEs said they would look to invest greater amounts into people management, in the hope that such a move would boost business.


Improving knowledge of all aspects of business is an essential part of the journey towards success, as recognising potential issues at an early point can make all the difference.


Where finances are concerned, any major problems could potentially necessitate business rescue in the long term, so managing them is essential.


This is highlighted by the fact that a sixth of those in the financial sector revealed they needed to constantly expand their knowledge to deal with the issues they face.


The potential of social media is noted by many businesses, but getting it right remains a challenge – despite this, digital usage is still expected to increase dramatically in the coming year.


By Phil Smith


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