SME news in brief: growth, EU, Brexit, funding, HR

SME news in brief
SME news in brief

Report into growth barriers for SMEs

A large proportion of SMEs express limited desire to grow in the future. This is according to a report from Oxbridge Business School and Barclays, which explains that this may be for a variety of reasons such as managing work-life balance or a desire to keep firms small so a founder can manage alone or with only a few employees. Crucially, start-ups must have a will to grow and commit to ambitious growth.

The report found that for firms to grow successfully they need to engage with their business ecosystem. Establish partnerships that will collaborate and help supplement a lack of resource, to share in their success through alliances, partnerships and collaboration.

Many small businesses are managed and controlled by their founders, but such centralisation imposes a limit on size known as the “bottleneck of one mind”. To grow beyond this limit, a formalisation of roles, organisation and processes is necessary. Develop effective management systems that allow growth in employees and profitability through standardisation and delegation.

EU referendum outlook unclear for small firms

The EU referendum is fast approaching, and the uncertainty continues to have a knock-on effect for the country’s SMEs.

Weighing in, invoice trading platform Funding Invoice’s CEO Aamar Aslam says that it would be particularly difficult for British start-ups and SMEs to export their products and services outside of the UK, as they would need to look even further than Europe for business opportunities

“With uncertainty over how the pound will fare against other world currencies, our small businesses could find themselves unable to reach their growth targets without additional financial support,” he said.

“Whilst banks such as HSBC have publicly committed to large investments in SME lending, if a Brexit were to happen there is a possibility that this lending could be tightened as banks’ capital comes under scrutiny in the coming months. SMEs should explore all possible avenues and look to more alternative routes of funding to help their business stay on track. Fintech firms can offer better rates for small business than the traditional banks, with recent studies demonstrating higher levels of customer satisfaction in addition.”

Financial services provider targets North West

SMEs based in Manchester should find financing options easier to come by, as one funding partner looks to increase support to the North West region.

Bibby Financial Services has boosted its funding to Manchester businesses by 26%; from February 2015 to February 2016, it increased funding advanced to businesses in Manchester from £18.2m to £23.1m.

Bibby Financial Services regional head of corporate in Manchester, Dan Burton said: “The businesses we’re speaking with in Manchester are more confident than they were in in the latter half of 2015 and many are now seeking funding to grow their businesses this year.

“In our experience, start-ups, manufacturing and engineering businesses are all seeing strong growth. Investment desires are coupled with a growing awareness of alternative forms of finance and demand for our invoice finance facilities is increasing.”

Firms increasingly offer employee benefits to retain staff

More businesses now offer additional benefits compared with 2013, as more are motivated to do so for recruitment and retention.

This is according to Aviva’s Working Lives report, which shows that almost one in five (19%) employers are planning to increase spending on workplace benefits in the next 12 months, rising to 25% among large firms (250+ employees).

Other key findings include:

• Attracting skilled workers is now the number one HR priority for businesses

• Confidence in the UK economy is up among private sector employers while employees report improved work/life balance

• Keeping up with new legislation, such as pension changes, is a growing concern – and the number one worry for small businesses

• Support for auto-enrolment continues three years since it began, with the biggest effects being modernised pensions for more staff