Two-thirds of SMEs are planning to grow in the next three months

According to new research, from Hitachi Capital’s British Business Barometer, within the next three months, 67 per cent of SME owners are working on their growth plans, compared to 61 per cent last year.

Fast-expanding small business owners are prioritising the following; employing staff upgrading equipment and exporting overseas as moves towards Brexit are slowly being finalised.

Hitachi’s barometer reported that the number of SMEs predicted to close has doubled from five per cent to 10 per cent in just three months.

For small businesses predicting significant upturn, their main priority is to hire more staff to help support their growth. Half of these businesses (50 per cent) say the areas that have the most pressing needs for staffing are IT, telecoms and legal services, compared to the national average of just 16 per cent.

Investing in new equipment is seen as the second-best way to encourage growth (36 per cent); small businesses in agriculture unsurprisingly are most likely to be investing in new equipment, followed by construction and media.

And the third priority for those who are expecting growth in their business is to focus on expanding into new, overseas marketing.

However, at the moment SMEs are focusing on ensuring they are in a good financial shape.

With factors such as a weak British pound and what is predicted to be the first series of interest rates rising, many SME owners are focusing on cutting costs (37 per cent), improving cash flow (20 per cent) and being stricter on getting paid on time (16 per cent).

Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: “What is so encouraging from our new study is that the small business community is not sitting back and waiting for a Brexit outcome to be known. They have told us they have concerns, but they are acting on them.

“Across the UK there has been a notable rise in the proportion of small business owners that have adopted strategies to help them seize opportunities and try to secure growth at a time of uncertainty.

“The businesses that predict the most significant growth are those that are investing in their businesses – bringing people in, looking at new markets and looking at the equipment they need to power growth.”