Funding is key for SME growth plans in 2022

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Date: 23 November 2021

Small business owners checking order status

Small business owners across the UK are looking to hire staff and launch new products and services but one in two say they need funding in order to bring their plans to fruition.

The latest quarterly Business Barometer study from Hitachi Capital Business Finance has found that access to finance is going to be key in helping the small business sector to build back and grow in 2022. Its findings show that half of small businesses across the UK (49%) say they need finance to help them fulfil their growth plans for the year ahead.

As some sectors face labour shortages, the study has found that for 30% of small businesses, plans to invest in job creation for skilled labour is dependent on securing finance. This pressure is most pronounced in the manufacturing sector (51%) and IT/ telecoms (34%). Regionally, small businesses in London are most likely to say they need to secure funding before they can move forward with hiring plans (41%).

The poll of 1,211 small business owners has also found that 25% of enterprises say they would struggle to launch new products and services without first securing finance. This comes at a time when businesses have had to look for new ways to rebuild and recover - and for many this has involved diversifying services and product lines. Small businesses in retail (46%), manufacturing (29%) and IT & telecoms (29%) are most likely to say that their plans to innovate and diversify will be held back if they can't get finance.

The Barometer results also highlight the role finance plays in helping small businesses to reach new customers. More than one in five small businesses (24%) say that without access to finance they will not be able to move forward with new marketing and advertising campaigns. More than one in five small businesses (22%) also say they need funding to invest in new vehicles or to move to a better or bigger office location.

The top ten areas where small business owners say they need finance are:

  • Hiring new people (30%);
  • Launching new products and services (25%);
  • Running a marketing/advertising campaign (24%);
  • Investing in new vehicles (22%);
  • Moving to a better location/bigger space (22%);
  • Modernising IT and digital capabilities (19%);
  • Pitching for major new accounts and competing with larger competitors (19%);
  • Investing in new machinery (17%);
  • Launching into new markets within the UK (17%);
  • Improving the company's website and brand (17%).

Joanna Morris, head of insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: "We are at a critical moment when it comes to supporting the small business community … Over the last three quarters, our Business Barometer study has seen small business confidence rise and stabilise. However, the research clearly shows that small businesses are in need of funding to rebuild after a challenging year. They have already begun to plan and prioritise what resources and investment they will need in order to grow into the beginning of 2022 - and without proper support some may struggle to find their feet again."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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