UK SMEs using technology to overcome their fears

UK SMEs feel positive about the economy and their strategies for the future despite facing a host of challenges in 2019 according to a new study from American Express conducted by Oxford Economics.

The research, which is conducted annually among senior executives and decision-makers in SMEs across 15 countries, shows that UK SMES are remaining resilient even when faced with old and new business challenges.

Of those surveyed, over two thirds (64%) forecast policy, legal and regulatory changes as the greatest threat to SMEs in 2019 followed by economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and trade relationships. Cyber and data security is an emerging treat to UK businesses and 31 percent ranked it in their top three external business threats this year compared to only 11 percent last year.

Revenue growth may be the most important long-term objective for UK SMEs but organisations have scaled down their profit projections for the year ahead showing they're more realistic about what they can achieve given the current climate.

Continued growth

SMEs plan to focus on productivity in 2019 with businesses predicting that increased productivity and operational efficiency will have the greatest impact on their financial performance over the next three years. To help realise these goals, UK SMEs plan to implement cost-saving programs (66%) and improve management decision making (59%) going forward.

Organisations are also leveraging their small business advantages to drive growth and 60 percent believe they are now more likely to be a disruptor as opposed to being disrupted. This belief is reflected in their appetite for risk with 70 percent of UK SMEs saying they are willing to take big risks to gain big rewards.

Executive Vice President of Global Commercial Services International at American Express, Jose Carvalho provided further insight on the findings of the study, saying:

“Despite operating in turbulent times, and facing fresh challenges for the year ahead, the optimism and focused resilience shown by the country’s SMEs is encouraging. Our research shows that they are single minded in their approach to growth and 85% are assured about the strategies they have in place to meet their objectives. Although confident, our SMEs are far from complacent. They’re realistic in their attitudes towards revenue growth – and must now invest in improving cost savings and decision making to meet their productivity goals.”