December 29th, 2017
UK small and medium sized businesses currently contribute £1.8 trillion to the UK economy, so it’s not surprising to learn how crucial they are to the creation of jobs and the overall productivity of the country.
Following the financial crisis of 10 years ago, UK SMEs have demonstrated how resilient they are by continuing to thrive. Despite the ongoing negotiations concerning our exit from the European Union and the backdrop of political and economic uncertainty this poses, the future is predicted to be bright for small businesses. In fact, according to a recent study published by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), SME contributions to the economy are expected to grow by 19% over the period from 2016 to 2025.
In this article we look at three business issues which are high on the agenda for SMEs in 2018.
SMEs are responsible for 60% of all private sector employment in the UK and as people continue to be the key to the success of a business, it’s easy to understand why they are such a big concern.
The growth of a business relies on not only recruiting enough people to support that growth, but finding people with the right skills or education to meet the demands of the business. Making sure that you convey your business in the most positive light to potential employees is extremely important. Larger businesses are likely to have an established reputation which people can relate to. Smaller businesses on the other hand, can often be unknown territory for new employees, so making every effort to strengthen what your business has to offer appropriately skilled or qualified candidates is a must.
Upon successful recruitment of suitable employees, you will need to work hard to retain them. While salary is an important factor, it is no longer the only one which motivates staff to remain in your employment. You will need to consider much wider issues which may be important to your employees. These could include benefits which can be flexed to individual requirements, your overall business culture, how your business communicates with employees and training and development programmes for employees.
Hardly a day goes by without news of a virus, a leak in confidential data or a security hack. The implications this can have on a business can be catastrophic, particularly if you are an SME. Some of the issues your business could face include irrecoverable monetary losses, negative PR and leaks in sensitive client or employee data.
Contrary to popular belief, SMEs are often primary targets for hackers because they are typically less vigilant than large organisations where security is concerned, due to underestimating the risk. To make sure you are safeguarded, it is advisable to conduct a risk assessment relevant to your business. Some of the ways that you can protect your company include putting anti-virus software, firewalls and encryption software in place and conducting regular backups of data. To give yourself maximum peace of mind, you may even decide that putting insurance in place relevant to cyber security is a worthwhile option.
Investment and Funding
Whilst there seems to be a range of funding options for start-ups, as a business reaches the development capital stage, they can struggle to raise the necessary funds to grow the business. This is often related to a fear of debt, a reluctance to hand over capital or relinquish equity.
With business loans tending only to be available to those that have been in business for some time and Government grants notoriously difficult to obtain, most small businesses looking to expand will need to investigate alternative options to raise capital.
Some of the finance options available to small businesses in the UK include crowdfunding, asset based lending and equity finance.
If you are looking for business investment rather than finance options, then angel investors or venture capitalists can inject significant amounts of money to assist with growth in return for a share in the business.
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