The General Election may be in the balance, causing uncertainty for company owners, but long-term aspirations are positive for small businesses, according to a report.
The General Election is just around the corner and, in the short term at least, uncertainty prevails over the future of the country’s governance.
But at the time of writing, there is nothing much between the candidates, with the result come the May 7th still up in the air – and all the confusing coalition ramifications still being mulled over.
In the long term though, according to a recent study by Opus Energy, UK SMEs are ‘cautiously confident about the future’, with 56 per cent saying the future of their business looks optimistic.
However, SMEs feel time pressured, with 71 per cent having to cover multiple roles within their business. Some 57 per cent of SMEs would welcome a boost to help their business grow or survive.
Are the UK’s SMEs growing?
Pleasingly, the report suggests that the majority of SMEs are growing, with 54 per cent of SMEs saying their business has grown in the past year. After many years of recession and financial uncertainty, it appears that half of SMEs predict their business will grow in 2015. However, there are barriers that are stopping businesses growing as fast as they could. This said, more than half of SMEs are focusing budget on expansion for the next 12 months.
With time pressure identified as a barrier to growth, 51 per cent of SME owners and decision-makers admit they can only plan for the short term – ie up to six months ahead.
And their plans may not extend to taking on staff as quickly as they would like, with nearly three-quarters of SME decision makers (71 per cent) having to cover multiple roles within their business as part of their job.
Bearing in mind the importance of scrutinising your cost base, it is a little surprising perhaps to learn that in terms of finding the best energy deals, 81 per cent of those responsible for energy in SMEs do not shop around with other suppliers to check whether there are any better deals on offer when their contract is due for renewal. Nearly a quarter of SMEs (24 per cent) do not have an energy contract, and are being charged out-of-contract rates.
The most important considerations for SMEs when choosing an energy supplier are cost (50 per cent), customer service (36 per cent), and reputation (28 per cent). Just over a third of SMEs (37 per cent) switched energy supplier within the last two to three years.
However, a further 36 per cent have not switched within the last three years, and more than one in ten SMEs (12 per cent) have never switched energy suppliers.
Clean energy seems to be of interest to SMEs, according to the study. Some 78 per cent of SMEs would like to be supplied with renewable energy, with 40 per cent saying this is because it’s good for the environment, and 38 per cent say this will help boost their business’ green credentials.
Lynn Morrison, marketing manager at Opus Energy says, ‘The Business Boost research gave us some great insights into the SME owner, their growth perspectives and pain points. We knew that we wanted to help them and the research allowed us to understand exactly where we could add value.’
The result was the Opus Energy Gift website, which is designed to be a resource where business owners can go to quickly get advice and information specifically for them. ‘We update the website with new content every week and are always looking for external experts on a variety of topics that are willing to share their expertise,’ she adds.