Brexit concerns outweighed by cash flow and skills as barriers to growth

Concerns over cash flow and recruitment skills gaps are a greater barrier to growth than Britain leaving the European Union, according to research.

In a new poll of entrepreneurs by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, cash flow is cited as the most significant barrier to growth by more than a quarter of respondents, followed by challenges in recruiting personnel with the right skills (23 per cent).

By contrast, Brexit only appears to only be a barrier to growth for 5 per cent of entrepreneurs.

Respondents state that if their main barrier was removed, significant business growth could be achieved in the current 2017-18 financial year.

The majority of entrepreneurs (57 per cent) predict growth of between 16 and 30 per cent while 21 per cent of business owners feel they could achieve growth in excess of 30 per cent.

Other factors impacting on the growth of entrepreneurial businesses include access to finance (14 per cent) and competition (7 per cent).

The challenge of least concern for entrepreneurs is regulation, with only 2 per cent of respondents believing red tape is a barrier.

When questioned on red tape and regulation, although it is not seen as a significant barrier to growth, 47 per cent of entrepreneurs agree that it is an unnecessary cost to their businesses and 50 per cent of respondents say it is a barrier to innovation.

The issues of the ‘here and now’

Gillian Marshall, chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum says, ‘While Brexit remains an evolving challenge on the horizon, entrepreneurs are more focused on the issues that are affecting their businesses in the here and now.

‘Cash is king for entrepreneurs and without it the wheels of business turn a lot slower and can put their enterprises at risk. This will include the perennial issue of late payment, which can have a major impact throughout the economy. If small suppliers are not paid they could go out of business, which can also impact on larger firms too.’

The availability of skills is also integral to growth opportunities and entrepreneurs are clear that it is a challenge that has to be overcome to ensure continued business success, Marshall adds.

‘There is a closing of the gap between education and business, particularly in some parts of further and higher education, but it is a slow process that is affecting entrepreneurial businesses now.

‘Overcoming challenges is in the DNA of entrepreneurs, which is why they are integral to the future prosperity of the UK. Their confidence in the potential growth their companies could achieve if the barriers were removed highlights the importance of creating an attractive environment for business.’

Further reading on Brexit

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of 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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