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Three SME growth challenges and how to overcome them

This article was updated 20th September 2016

Did you know that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within 18 months? The internet may have enabled anybody to become an entrepreneur, but running a successful business is no mean feat.  So what are some common stumbling blocks for SMEs, and how do you overcome them? 

  1. Access to funding

Many small businesses are confused about the funding opportunities available to them, and flounder due to a lack of finance or cash flow issues.

We suggest: SMEs that have a strong financial history and prove good prospects are more likely to get loans. Going beyond the banks can help: there are more funding options than many smaller businesses realise, as our finance guide explains. Have a product or idea with considerable marketing appeal? Try crowdfunding. Websites such as Kickstarter allow anybody to raise money for a project, and have seen a number of considerable successes. Depending on your industry, you may be eligible for government grants such as R&D grants for businesses involved in life sciences and innovation.

  1. Skill shortages

Finding skilled employees has always been difficult, and the cost of hiring the wrong person has caused many a business owner grey hairs. Additionally, a number of surveys have shown that the UK is currently experiencing a skills gap, particularly in the digital arena.

We suggest: Taking on someone with less experience and building their skills yourself can make for a reliable and well-trained employee. Apprenticeship is now a nationally recognised scheme, enabling small businesses to employ new staff without breaking the bank, as our guide explains. Alternatively, check out websites such as Fiverr or People Per Hour, where you can hire talented freelancers instantly.

  1. Unnecessary admin and costs

Costs and time-drains consistently block SME growth. Even simple administration tasks eat up time and are therefore very costly to smaller businesses. For example, an FSB study found that UK SMEs could be losing £500 million a year in unnecessary costs related to tax administration, with around 12 days a year lost on average.

We suggest: Small businesses can simultaneously cut both costs and their time burden. has already helped thousands of companies save millions of pounds, on their business energy bills without the investment of time usually needed to compare and switch supplier. Simply complete the form in the top right hand corner or call 0800 411 8830.


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