Bigger Exporting Businesses ‘Concerned’ About Future – But Small Firms Report ‘Business As Usual’

In 2016, small businesses appeared to less interested, than previous years, in external finance - with many opting to self-fund instead

Bigger Exporting Businesses ‘Concerned’ About Future – But Small Firms Report ‘Business As Usual’

Larger exporting businesses were more concerned post-Brexit than smaller domestic firms, a report by BDRC Continental has revealed.

Its SME Finance Monitor, which surveyed over 100,000 UK small businesses, found that 70% of smaller enterprises said that nether political or economic uncertainty posed any barrier in Q4 2016 – suggesting many were unhinged by the EU referendum result.

The reaction among larger businesses, with between 50-249 employees, was significantly different however – with 35% worried about the economic climate and 32% worried about the political one in the same quarter.

Despite shrugging off any Brexit concerns, smaller respondents were less confident of expanding their operations over the next 12 months, as just 43% said they expected to grow – compared to 49% in 2013.

When looking to raise funds, businesses appeared less interested in external finance, than in previous years, with many opting to self-fund instead.

Just 37% of all businesses used this method in 2016, with a record low 5% applying for renewed loan or overdraft facility.

However, the decline in appetite for finance does not appear to be a confidence issue, with 69% optimistic that if they applied to their bank for a loan, their request would be granted.

Shiona Davies, director at BDRC Continental, said:

“While sentiment across the small business sector remains buoyant, businesses that trade internationally are increasingly concerned about the economic climate and political uncertainty. For businesses that both import and export, concerns about political uncertainty increased from 8% in 2015 to 32% in Q4 2016.”

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