The UK’s SMEs are going ‘back to basics’ when it comes to their plans to drive growth this year, according to an interesting new report.
‘Customer focus’ is at the heart of the strategy for most small businesses over the next 12 months, a survey carried out by American Express and Oxford Economics has revealed.
In fact it turns out that as a nation we are the most “customer-centric” with 45 per cent of the UK’s SMEs declaring its importance for revenue growth – compared to a global average of just 36 per cent.
That’s no real surprise. Our SMEs here in Lancashire and further afield, are all well aware of the advantages of staying close to their customers. It is what they have built their success on, and that is not likely to change any time yet.
Confidence, it appears, remains high despite the uncertainties thrust upon business by Brexit – the survey’s authors reveal that this is supported by a strong belief that owner managers have in the core strengths of businesses in general.
According to their research 41 per cent of the businesses quizzed plan to use the advantages that they have as an SME – such as adaptability, innovation and strong customer relationships – as one of their top three strategies for fuelling revenue growth.
Adaptability heads the list, with those quizzed prioritising it as the most important capability that they aim to develop as they look to meet business challenges over the next three years.
Just under half of those surveyed placed increasing operational efficiency in their top three contributors to financial performance over the next three years.
Confidence levels among the UK’s SMEs have more than quadrupled in the last year, with 57 per cent feeling optimistic about the global economy over the next 12 months, compared to just 14 per cent going into 2017.
And again, despite Brexit, our confidence levels are 10 per cent higher than the global average.
It all points to the resilience of our key small business sector and this is probably why almost a quarter of businesses quizzed predict they can achieve revenue growth averaging over 10 per cent for the next three years.
That is not to say that they are unaware of the challenges and threats ahead. More than half ranked economic uncertainty in their domestic economy as the biggest external threat to their business.
But it appears that political uncertainty is no longer seen as the biggest challenge – for now.
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