The UK’s small and medium sized businesses believe that the availability of better technology will be the most important contributor for business growth next year, with 39% citing it will have a positive impact, up from its position in second place last year, according to research from Barclays Business.
The findings, which polled decision makers of UK SMEs on the impact of a series of factors on their business growth in 2016, also revealed that consumer demand will be vital to accelerate growth, although this fell from first to second most influential factor with a net score of 32%, while international markets/opportunities overseas (25%) remain a key focus for business growth, appearing in the top three.
The other key factors that SMEs believe will have a net positive impact on growth in 2016 include a move to online or improvements in digital presence (23), and major sporting and cultural events, such as the Rio Olympics (10%).
When it comes to the factors expected to hinder growth in 2016, extreme weather takes the top spot, with a net score of -23% of SMEs surveyed believing it will have a negative impact on their business. Money or funding constraints (-20%) as well as competition among similar businesses (-18%) are also concerns for the year ahead.
Rebecca McNeil, Head of SME Lending at Barclays, commented: “Our 2016 Hopes & Fears poll highlights how SMEs are aware of the opportunities as well as risks to their growth in the New Year.
“It is encouraging to see that many SMEs recognise the importance of technology for their business growth. It is therefore essential that businesses are given the right support, tools and guidance to enable them to embrace any new opportunities to maximise their growth.
“Businesses recognise that there are challenges to growth, such as extreme weather and access to funding, which remain a concern for some.
“We understand these challenges and are committed to doing all we can to minimise its impact. If a business is concerned about adverse weather impacting them, planning ahead and speaking to their bank can help to manage cash flow.
“Currently we are the only bank to provide pre-assessed loan limits to businesses, giving SMEs the confidence they need to invest and scale-up their growth.”