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Plans for Growth: SMEs Top Priorities

Following is the recent research into the plans for SMEs for 2014 and some surprising trends have been highlighted.  975 SME owners were surveyed and asked to summarise their priorities and growth strategies for the coming year.  The results revealed a marked difference to the list of priorities you would have expected based on previous years.

Low down on the list is cutting costs.  This is perhaps slightly surprising, as cost cutting is a great exercise for any business to undertake, and one of the easiest strategies to use in order to boost profits.  However, when we put this into the context of the last few years and the recession, it is easy to see how businesses may have already been through the cost cutting process, many times in some cases.  With the economy tentatively recovering, it is perhaps the right time for many businesses to focus on external, rather than internal ways to increase profits.

It is a healthy sign that investing in SEO and advertising feature highly on the list.  They appear as the number 4 and 5 priorities respectively.  This apparent willingness to allocate money toward advertising and SEO means that businesses are sensing an upturn in the economy, and are willing to spend money now on schemes that will most likely pay off in the long term rather than immediately.  This is an important shift in the attitude of SME owners which could be a sign of returning and growing confidence in the market.

The ranking of 4th for SEO is indicative of the modern business landscape, and you would expect the figure to be comprised of traditional businesses that would rank SEO investment as a low priority, and new online businesses for which SEO is a key tool to unlock the potential of all the other areas identified in the list.  It would be expected that for any online or modern business, SEO would be top of the list as without it, it is very difficult to invest in advertising or PR.

The key two areas that SME owners have identified for growth are diversifying, both in terms of products and services offered and territories covered specifically international expansion.  This paints a slightly different outlook on the view of the British economic recovery.  Although figures have suggested that the British economy is recovering faster than its European counterparts, overseas markets are still seen as key growth areas for British businesses.  One area of the economy that is taking time to recover is loans for small businesses.

For SMEs wishing to expand business into new markets, or who wish to invest in advertising, it is very beneficial to investigate alternate funding.  Merchant cash advance loans can be a great way to release funds.  Cash is advanced against future debit and credit card purchases, and it is paid back as a percentage of those future transactions.  It could be just the boost needed for an SME to have a great and memorable 2014.