The biggest challenges facing SMEs in 2018

A new study carried out by Barclays Business Banking claims to have mapped out the biggest challenges facing British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) over the course of 2018.

The survey, which asked SME owners about their biggest fears in the run-up to the New Year, found that rising inflation and the ever-increasing threat of cyber attacks were the top two things business owners were worried about.

It found that almost half (43 per cent) of British businesses are concerned that inflation will hinder their growth this year, while a further 41 per cent are worried that their organisation might be hit by a cyber attack.

40 per cent of business respondents said that they were worried about the state of the economy, while a further 36 per cent voiced concerns that prices rising faster than wages could put undue pressure on consumers – which could impact their business.

Despite these concerns, the survey revealed that businesses are determined to overcome the challenges they believe they face.

65 per cent of firms said that they intended to maintain the same level of investment and employee numbers as 2017 this year, while a sizeable number of businesses indicated that they were hoping to pursue even further growth.

Ian Rand, Chief Executive of Barclays Business Banking, noted that businesses were “taking a prudent and cautious approach” to the New Year.

Going forward, he said that SMEs should investigate new opportunities in e-commerce and technology, which he said could have a “positive impact” for many businesses.

His comments echo the findings of a separate study published by Capital Economics in recent days, which found that British SMEs are likely to see substantially higher sales this year if they follow through with plans to expand online.