Survey Reveals SME Concerns

SMEs Have Highlighted Access To Funding As One Of Their Main Issues


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

Problems relating to accessing funding have been cited as the biggest challenge facing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, according to the results of a new survey.

SME Web has published the findings of research carried out by Conference Genie, which involved the questioning of 500 small businesses based in Britain. In particular, it focused on the issues they have faced since the peak of the economic recession in 2008.

Start-up firms stated that accessing funding was their biggest challenge, while 21 per cent of all respondents reported rising costs for amenities such as energy and travel as their main concern.

Recruitment issues were also prevalent among SMEs, particularly in the retail, fitness, finance, travel, health and technology sectors, with 36 per cent of all such firms finding it difficult to hire a skilled, talented workforce.

To help to try to resolve this issue, almost one-quarter of small companies are planning increased investment in their HR departments, with a focus on people management in particular.

Many SMEs also found social media to be something of a challenge, despite this now being regarded as one of the best ways to communicate with customers. Some 38 per cent of those polled said Facebook was the most difficult online social platform to use, while 26 per cent struggled with Twitter.

Customer service was one of the areas small businesses said they would be concentrating on over the coming year, suggesting that social media training would be extremely beneficial for them.

This was particularly the case among SMEs in the health and fitness sector, with nearly one-fifth (19 per cent) saying they intend to improve their knowledge of customer service over the next 12 months. Some 14 per cent of finance industry respondents also stated this.

The survey also asked small firms about what they did to keep staff morale at a high level, finding that 25 per cent of SMEs thought social outings were extremely effective.

Expert Opinion
This research has put an important spotlight on the key issues which are affecting small businesses. It is clear that while the economy has improved significantly in recent times, there remain many obstacles and issues which SMEs face as they look to develop and grow their operations.

"Growing pains are an inevitable part of business and it is vital that SMEs always speak to legal experts on every step of their journey. Lawyers can provide key advice on issues such as corporate and contract law, employment and a range of other key matters."
Fergal Dowling, Partner