SME owners have pumped £12k of their own cash into their businesses

SME owners have ploughed thousands of pounds into their businesses, but many still see them folding in the next five years

Entrepreneurs have put almost £12,000 (£11,846.45) of their own money into their businesses on average, according to new research.

Worryingly, 2.6m business owners admit to having concerns about the future – a quarter even believe that their business will go under in the next five years.

These findings come from Business Rewired, a report by Xero looking at the greatest concerns for SME owners in the future. The most prominent worries are:

Receiving payments late54pc
Tax rates for small businesses44pc
Uncertainty of Brexit44pc
Value of the pound40pc
Maintaining or increasing levels of productivity31pc
Increasing cost of importing goods/materials30pc
Cyber attacks/cost of protection against them27pc
Rising cost of rent25pc
Attracting high calibre employees24pc
Cost of running a green/sustainable business23pc
Failure to meet demand23pc
Retaining staff21pc
Increasing cost of exporting products19pc
Inflexible employee contracts19pc
Cost of staff recruitment19pc
Staff going on annual leave17pc

Pressures like these have affected the mental health of more than a third of respondents, with small business owners working an extra nine hours per week on average on top of their standard working hours.

Optimism in the industry

Despite a dismal year for SMEs, experts believe that the emergence of AI will ease the strain on exhausted business owners.

Gerd Leonhard, business futurist and contributor to the report, says:

“Automation is reducing the need for humans to undertake routine tasks and the world of work is heading towards a dramatic reset. Everything we assume about work, jobs, training and education is being challenged by exponential scientific and technological progress. Whether you’re a small business owner, an accountant, bookkeeper or advisor, these emerging trends will affect you very soon.”

Leonhard added that over the next 20 years, AI will revolutionise routine as we know it and cut working hours by up to half; a ‘blended workforce’ will transform the number of employers workers have; and digital transactions and the death of the 30-day payment model will spell the end of late payments as SMEs move towards a happier, healthier economy.

However, employees mustn’t be forgotten in all of this. Emma Gannon, author, podcast host and contributor to the report, said: “We are in a time when young people are job-hopping more than ever, and the pressure is on for companies to retain their employees. This means adapting to the changes that are here right now and coming in the next few years.”

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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