SME growth plans stall without funding

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Date: 7 June 2022

Management team discussing growth plans

A poll of small business owners has found that seven in ten firms with growth plans say they won't be able to achieve their objectives without an injection of finance.

New research conducted by Novuna Business Finance has found that 70% of small businesses that predict significant growth in the next three months say they will have to put their plans on hold unless they can get finance. Key growth plans include hiring more staff and investing in IT.

The findings suggest that access to finance is critical for the small business sector at a pivotal time for the economy - with many trying to rebuild after the pandemic in the face of soaring business costs. The need for finance correlates with businesses that are more likely to be planning growth - 70% for those predicting significant expansion, compared to 61% that predict modest growth and 47% that predict no growth.

The need for finance is also greater for enterprises most affected by the pandemic. Nationally, 74% of small businesses that closed their doors during lockdown need finance to power current growth plans. The same is true for 69% of business owners that re-purposed their business during lockdown and 57% of those that adapted to a remote or home-working routine.

The biggest problem for those unable to secure funding is that plans to hire more staff would have to be put on hold, according to 32% of business owners polled. A further 30% said their plans to update their technology and invest in IT would stall if they couldn't get funding. Small business owners also said they needed funding to support new product development (29%), run marketing campaigns (27%), move to new premises (27%), invest in new vehicles (25%) and pitch for major accounts (24%). Worryingly, 16% said they needed funding to be able to pay suppliers on time.

Across nine UK regions, the need for finance from small businesses has increased on last year. Regionally, enterprises in the North West and Wales are most reliant on finance to secure growth (62% each), followed by small businesses in London (60%). The biggest year-on-year rise in the need for finance is among small businesses in the North East. By industry sector, there are significant rises in the reliance on finance in manufacturing, construction, transport and media.

Jo Morris, head of insight at Novuna Business Finance, said: "It is remarkable that so many small businesses have set out growth plans for 2022, given today's volatile market conditions and the severe challenges so many faced during the lockdown era. Whilst at face value this is most welcome news - the sector's reliance on finance to secure growth is a critical issue that must be tackled. It is also noteworthy that those enterprises expecting to expand the fastest are also those most in need of finance to support this."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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