A third of UK SMEs have grown over past two years

Some 33 per cent of small companies have added employees since 2013, research finds.

This equates to 1.675 million businesses, while approximately 426,000 businesses (8 per cent) have grown by 50 per cent or more over the period, according to a study by Citrix.

These research findings indicate that Britain is closing the ‘scale-up gap’, as identified in a 2014 industry report by Sherry Coutu, with more start-ups scaling into large companies.

The same report defines a ‘scale-up’ business as having ten or more employees and recording average annual growth in revenue or employees of at least 20 per cent over three consecutive years.

According to the Citrix research, one tenth (10 per cent) of all British businesses of this size have recorded average annual growth of more than 20 per cent over the last two years (5 per cent more than the 2014 report found).

Citrix defines these as ‘high-growth’ businesses and estimates that of the 220,345 SMEs in Britain with ten or more employees, 23,000 are high-growth companies. These high-growth businesses drive economic growth at faster rates, create more jobs, and ensure longer-term productivity.

Those SMEs that grew by 50 per cent or more over the last two years are four times more likely to have spent ‘much more’ on technology in 2014 than they did in 2013 (27 per cent) than those that stayed the same size or decreased (6 per cent).

The findings reveal a stronger correlation between company growth and technology investment and high-growth businesses – those companies identified for the scale-up comparison.

The study also highlights how technology is helping British SMEs to overcome potential barriers to scaling up a business. These barriers include finding the right talent, sourcing suitable business locations and expanding into new markets.

Andrew Millard, senior director of international marketing at Citrix says, ‘SMEs are a critical engine of growth for the UK economy and this study illustrates the vibrancy within the sector over the last two years.

‘Technology is clearly playing an important role in SMEs overcoming some of the traditional barriers to growth and digital competency is becoming the new currency of growth. We hear on a daily basis how our customers are using technology to reinvent not only the way they work but the markets that they operate in.’

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation adds, ‘The gazelle-like pace and momentum we’re experiencing in the small business world is not abating, rather it’s increasing as more and more people seize the day and set about starting up a business of their own, taking control of their own destiny.

‘This report shows more than ever are now taking their companies to the next level and entering the fast lane and high growth. It’s great news for the British economy, and for all those millions of small and micro-businesses that are just starting out or growing a company to fit in with their own lifestyle and aspirations.’

Further reading on growing a business

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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