Achieving financial empowerment through technology

A woman using a smartphone and laptop.
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It goes without saying that it is a tough environment for small and medium-sized (SME) business owners across the UK as they grapple with high inflation and cost of living crisis combined with post-pandemic trading challenges. As a result, many small business owners are now focusing the trajectory of their business recovery and on caring for themselves, as well as their business’ needs.

About the author

Ben Ramsden is Head of SME at PayPal UK.

Insights from PayPal UK’s recent 2022 Business of Change report reveal that three-quarters (78%) of small business owners, believe the cost-of-living crisis will be the biggest threat to their business over the next year.

The main challenges cited by Britain’s entrepreneurs include maintaining a steady cash flow, managing their own mental health, and coping with the increase in cost of raw materials. While the rising cost of living is having a knock-effect on business overheads and expenses, it is also affecting consumer confidence and spending habits. Worryingly, over a quarter (27%) fear their business might fail as a direct result of tough financial conditions in the next 12 months and, despite overcoming so much already, SMEs are now saying they fear this year could in fact be their toughest yet.

Entrepreneurs investing in themselves

However, looking ahead there is room for optimism. Almost a third (31%) of SMEs we surveyed say they still feel a sense of success or achievement in themselves after what they’ve been through, and the challenges successfully navigated to take them to this point.

Encouragingly, many are feeling optimistic about new opportunities in the future. We can also see strong signs of financial health as many small businesses are making smart investments in innovative solutions and implementing new technology to advance their business’ growth ambitions. These are small markers that indicate small business owners are in the right headspace to ensure their business is ready to thrive in the months and years to come.

One of the strongest benchmarks for seeing SMEs achieving financial control is reclaiming their business confidence through upskilling and investing in themselves. In fact, a third of SMEs say they’ve taken steps to upskill themselves through finance apps to develop their own financial literacy skills and help manage company finances.

Understanding technology and having the right tools in place remains key for financial empowerment and establishing independence as an SME navigating the current trading environment. It helps improve efficiencies to support the day-to-day running of a business, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on what they do best – driving the success of their business.

Where do they ‘grow’ from here

Running a financially healthy business is both a time saver and stress reducer, allowing SMEs to prioritize and invest in the right tools to support both business and personal needs. From my experience of supporting SMEs, it’s clear that time reclaimed becomes an opportunity for a business to renew its focus on growth.

Interestingly last year, almost half (45%) of small businesses in PayPal’s Business of Change 2021 study suggested that investing in new payment options and technology would give them an opportunity to expand in the future.

Achieving financial wellbeing requires flexible tools which support and empower SMEs in growing their business.

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Ben Ramsden

Ben Ramsden is Head of SME at PayPal.