Survey shows UK SMEs achieving growth despite barriers

Recent surveys of SMEs by banks and financial firms, including one carried out by national accountants Haines Watts of over 1000 business owners, have highlighted that, despite operating in a difficult economic environment, many UK SMEs are looking to grow.

The survey confirmed that most of this growth (52%) has been achieved within the UK, although there are strong signs that enterprises are also looking at overseas opportunities, particularly in Europe, but also in North America and Asia Pacific.In fact, Haines Watts, which has just been awarded the title ‘Accountancy Firm of the Year – SMEs’, at the annual FDs’ Excellence Awards, says their ‘Growth Survey’ showed that 44% of businesses surveyed have achieved positive growth over the past three, tough, years. Another third remained the same.

This is good news for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which has upgraded its economic growth forecast for the UK in 2014 to 3.0 percent from its previous 2.6 percent, stating that it expects to see marked improvements in business investment and productivity.

This is also great for the Government, which, in the March Budget, projected that future UK economic growth will see SMEs investing, innovating, growing and exporting as they become more confident about the upturn.

Andy Minifie, Group Managing Partner of Haines Watts commented: “We advise and support over 35,000 companies and business owners around the UK and, generally, they have achieved growth organically. They have focused on winning new business through reputation, referral and good contacts rather than by acquisition, suggesting a far more risk-averse approach to growth is being adopted.”

Andy added a note of caution: “Lack of faith in the ability to access external funding is still an issue for many business owners, who are not taking advantage of the new generation of lending and funding schemes. We encourage businesses to ensure they have a decent business plan, so they are well prepared, before they look at funding. The other areas where SMEs need more support are achieving better cash flow – that is still the challenge of greatest concern for many smaller businesses, followed by recruiting and retaining staff and trying to identify and enter new markets.”

So while SMEs are managing to grow, there is room for greater support from both government and others to help them be the investors and economy boosters the CBI needs them to be.

Haines Watts has just been awarded the title ‘Accountancy Firm of the Year – SMEs’, at the annual FDs’ Excellence Awards, which recognise the service providers that support Britain's finance community and are based on the results of an annual survey in which Financial Directors and financial decision-makers recorded their opinion. The award comes after the firm won ‘Auditor of the Year’ for the past two years.

The awards ceremony was hosted by Real Business in association with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), supported by the CBI.

With over 60 offices around the UK, and over 35,000 clients, Haines Watts is a Top 12 firm of Chartered Accountants which specialises in the owner-managed business sector. Haines Watts offers a broad range of services and has over 80 years experience of working with privately-owned businesses. It has the market understanding and expertise to make a real difference to a business.