British businesses being throttled by growing pains

A survey of 200 UK business leaders has revealed that only 20% were ‘highly positive’ about meeting their future growth targets. Despite recent successful expansion and ambitious future plans, the rest are suffering from a wide range of ‘growing pains’ including nearly half not having a grip on costs and spending.

The survey from eProcurement company Wax Digital maps the hopes and fears facing mid-sized, £50m to £250m turnover firms. 74% have grown over the last three years and 55% have become more ambitious about growing over the last two, but 80% are juggling up to 15 growing pains – or things within the business that need radical change if they’re to achieve their goals.

Just 2% said that they were not actively looking to expand and 92% have strategies looking beyond ‘organic’ growth. Of these, 43% intend to adopt new channels to market, 38% will expand their existing product and service range, 28% want to sell into different geographies and 24% plan to innovate new products and services. 17% are also seeking growth through acquisition, 9% are looking for investment and 8% are exploring digital markets.

However, these businesses are at a tipping point operationally; when questioned about six key growth challenges, they considered five of these more relevant to their business today than in the past or in the future. On average respondents cited these growth challenges as ‘relevant today’ 42% of the time, compared with ‘relevant in the past’ 28% of the time and ‘relevant in the future’ 16% of the time.

“It’s a critical time for Britain’s business engine room amid Brexit and other disruptive forces, but its performance is being throttled by the fact that these companies often end up running before they can walk,” said Paul Ellis, Managing Director, Wax Digital.

Skills and talent shortages was the top growth risk cited by 39%, followed closely by global political disruption for 37% and Brexit for 36%. Ellis continued: “A symptom of rapid expansion is that internal systems and processes and external relationships are not designed to keep pace with change. Whether that’s being able to appeal to investors, optimising your supply base and production or knowing what cash you’ve got to work with, it’s vital to get the right scalable foundations in place.”