What services are available to drive SME growth?

The majority of SMEs in the UK would describe themselves as ambitious according to a new study, but is the business environment currently capable of supporting sustainable growth?


A study by RSA found that a number of businesses want to hire staff and are keen to create new job roles, but feel restricted in their ability to do so.


Low confidence is having a major impact as companies are less prepared to take risks, while uncertainty surrounding an EU referendum muddies the waters further.


Some 55% of SMEs said they want guidance relating to a scenario where the UK exits the EU,  yet others wanted assistance with overcoming red tape – showcasing the broad range of issues that businesses are facing.


There are positives for companies though, as the Government has focused on the devolution of business rates and on cutting £10 billion in regulation costs in recent months.


Despite this, the RSA study states that it is still not easy for small businesses to expand overseas and many firms believes this is hampering growth.


Improving investment access and implementing tax relief may help to drive growth in this regard, as these were deemed to be the two major barriers to achieving this under current economic climate.


The vast majority of SMEs are simply calling for more information so that they can implement plans to boost their finances.


The Enterprise Bill should help to address this while also tackling late payments – an issue that many SMEs see as a burden.


Late payments places pressures on cash flows and can cause widespread supply chain disruption as many suppliers rely on another in order to pay their bills.


The key for businesses is to understand what assistance is available to them, and that starts with asking for help when it is needed.


There are plenty of different services that can provide guidance and support, from banks and management companies to UK insolvency practitioners and accountancy firms.


Firms should be able to rely on such services to gain an in-depth understanding of their particular market, ensuring that any regulatory requirements are met in the process.


The key for firms looking to drive growth is to embrace risk, but only when all possible outcomes have been considered – entering a new market for example is not a guarantee of success.


However, it could drive sales and boost brand awareness provided that any associated risks are mitigated as much as possible.


By Phil Smith


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