George Osborne has challenged British businesses to double exports to £1 trillion by the year 2020, but according to research from accountancy firm Baker Tilly, 96% of SMEs are ‘content’ with their current success.
The survey, entitled The Baker Tilly Your Business Outlook 2014, questioned 750 small and medium-sized businesses and revealed an underlying fear of growth from British companies.
Partner at the firm, Neil Sevitt says this is concerning,
“It is a real concern that, if SMEs do not take a long-term view and ignore opportunities for investment and expansion, economic recovery will remain hesitant and uneven. Businesses need to take more courageous and strategic decisions.”
Pressure from the recession has led to restrictions of lending from high-street banks to SMEs, meaning that raising finance requires more contemporary methods, such as crowd funding and peer-to-peer lending. Despite this creative route to finance, the survey revealed that 85% of those questioned were not prepared to expand and take on more debt.
The survey also found that just 18% of companies questioned said that they planned to take on new members of staff within the next 12 months. One fifth said they planned to increase capital expenditure and only 23% planned to increase their marketing spend.
“There should be more emphasis on research and development and more time dedicated to exploring international opportunities”, said Mr Sevitt.
The companies who were questioned were also found to be reluctant about Government tax relief. Almost 90% admitted that they had not, or were not, planning to use the incentives offered by the Treasury. According to accountancy firm Baker Tilly, SMEs are either unaware of such incentives or worried it would cost them too much time and money to apply.