Autumn is upon us and for many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, this time of year is turning out to be distinctly growth-focused – more spring than autumn, you might say!
In fact, according to recent research from business finance provider Novuna, 7 in 10 UK small firms are making growth plans, and in some sectors growth planning in the SME space has hit a three-year high.
It’s unquestionably optimistic, and after the challenges of those past three years – and no shortage of hurdles in the here and now – it’s a positive message we’re delighted to be able to bring to the business community in our County.
Let delve a little deeper into the story the figures tell, the opportunities that await, and how you can take action to make the most of them.
What the figures tell us
What’s interesting here is that the growth intentions span many different verticals – it’s not a question of one or two outliers skewing the picture.
So, we’re seeing many more firms planning growth this year compared to Q1 2021 across sectors including manufacturing, construction, agriculture, hospitality, IT and telecoms services, and finance and accounting firms. That’s a pretty broad mix.
And when we say “many more”, the increases over the last report are significant; 18% in construction, for example, 10% in agriculture, and almost 9% on average across all the verticals cited above.
It’s also interesting that the growth aspirations continue even with the prospect of a business rate cap “unfreeze” in the coming budget – so it is definitely a resilient trend.
In fact, there can be no doubt that, in many ways, SMEs have turned a corner; no longer focused on survival and subsistence, they’re looking to growth as a real and viable option for the near-term.
They’re also making vital preparations for it – so what do these look like, and what could businesses like yours learn from them?
How to get growth-ready (and why)
The research found that those SMEs planning for growth were focused on four key priorities: cost control, improving cash flow, obtaining funding, and reassessing their current funding to potentially find better deals and more effective arrangements.
This, of course, all makes perfect sense. Growth costs money, so sourcing more of the latter without plundering your coffers - as well as getting what’s owed to you into the bank more quickly and minimising its erosion by costs – is indispensable.
And if you’re not looking to grow your business, you should at least be asking yourself why, because growth isn’t just a measure of size – often, it’s an enabler that makes it easier to do business more effectively going forward.
With growth in its many different forms comes, for example, the potential to increase your resources and stock, generate more sales and profits, reach new customers or markets, reinvest more money back into your business, and influence market price.
How does Beds Chamber help your business grow?
Going for growth, especially when times are still somewhat uncertain, can be a slightly scary prospect, but with the right support and connections behind you, you’ll navigate it far more effectively.
At Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, we’ve got your growth aspirations covered at every turn.
Need pre-growth help with improving cash flow or managing costs? Useful articles like this one will certainly help show the way. But our members also benefit from online learning resources, courses, webinars, and preferential access to business finance experts in our community, through our Member2Member programme.
Funding – another essential pre-growth consideration, as we saw above – is a particular Beds Chamber specialism. Our online Finance Finder platform (see our recent article), enables Chamber members to gain fast, easy access to all funding options potentially open to them, across loans, equity, and grants – whilst also simplifying and accelerating the application process.
But whilst you’re preparing for growth, you do of course have to carry on with business as usual – and we’re also here to help you with the bread-and-butter activity of building new relationships, prospecting for new leads, and getting new deals in through the door.
Through our and our partners’ regular networking events, and targeted sales engagements like our Meet the Buyer programme, we connect you to opportunities to help keep your pipeline healthy, at the same time as growth is on the horizon.
For more information on how to become a member, please visit www.chamber-business.com or call our friendly team on 01582 522448.