Skip to Content

2018's biggest challenges for SMEs

2018's biggest challenges for SMEs
Thursday, January 04, 2018

Looking at the year ahead, you’ll no doubt have high hopes for your business in 2018. 

No one knows what the future may hold, but when you know what obstacles to look out for and plan ahead, you give your company the greatest chance for success. 

Barclays Business Banking has published the most common worries among British SME owners for 2018. In their annual SME Hopes and Fears Index, Barclays asked the decision makers at various UK companies what they fear may hinder their growth in the coming year.

Inflation 

The most common worry among SMEs in the UK this year was inflation. A massive 43% of businesses surveyed reported this as their main concern.

According to the Consumer Price Index, inflation is set to remain at 2.4% for the first half of the year, dropping only 0.1% by the end of 2018. 

Increasing business costs, such as rent and stock prices, it’s clear why high rates of inflation are a worry for small business owners. And with the rest of the country feeling the pressure of prices rising faster than wages, it’s likely your customers will be tightening their purse strings too.

It’s vital that you keep an eye on your cashflow forecasts throughout 2018, and that you keep a cash reserve built up for the slower periods.

Cyberattacks

In 2017, more than 875,000 SMEs in the UK reported having fallen victim to a cyber-attack in just 12 months. In London, almost a quarter of all small businesses suffered a security breach in that time.  

41% of those in the Barclays study reported cyberattacks as a major concern for their business in 2018. 

More than a fifth of businesses affected reported the breaches costing more than £10,000, with one in ten companies losing over £50,000. An attack could result in your business being unable to continue trading. 

Head of SME Proposition at Zurich, Paul Tombs, said that, whilst some of the world’s biggest companies have been victim to cybercriminals, “it’s important to remember that small and medium sized businesses need to protect themselves too.”

He went on to say that, “while the rate of attacks on SMEs is troubling, it also shows that there is an opportunity for businesses with the correct safeguards and procedures in place to leverage this as a strength and gain an advantage.”

Last May, Barclays launched their DigiSafe campaign to help raise awareness of cyberattacks, scams and fraud. They provide dedicated, specialist support for SMEs in the UK, giving them the tools they need to protect themselves against cyberattack. 

State of the UK economy

Whilst many may believe Brexit to be the number one concern for businesses in the UK, the survey actually found that British SMEs are more concerned about the state of the UK economy. 

With the Office for Budget Responsibility revising down their initial productivity growth estimations for the seventh year in a row, the OBR have also announced that economic growth will average just 1.4% over the next five years. 

But with more than 99% of British businesses being SMEs, the Government announced in October that they would be providing additional support for SME trade. 

As the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, stated, “small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and giving them the support they need to seize international trading opportunities is a priority.

“That’s why we’re partnering with the five major high street banks to make government-backed finance from UK Export Finance readily available in a matter of seconds, opening up new global contracts to businesses across the UK.”

That means UK SMEs will be able to access the funds they need to increase their exports, grow their revenue, and ultimately boost the UK’s productivity in 2018. 

2018 for SMEs

Whilst 2018 may prove challenging for SMEs in the UK, the survey also found business owners expect consumer demand and the availability of better technology to positively impact their companies this year. 

The number of businesses with high hopes for e-commerce and digital presence has almost doubled since 2016. Head of SME Scotland at Barclays Business Banking, Stuart Brown, says the research “reflects small businesses being empowered” by new technologies and digital opportunities. 

He said “inflation is clearly a worry, and in particular the potential for prices to rise faster than wages. Business owners are clearly taking a prudent and cautious approach to the year ahead.”

But by making the most of the many opportunities in 2018, SMEs will be able to “increase sales, cut costs and save time, strengthening their business.”

No matter what the future holds…

…your Panthera team are there to help. Call us on 01235 768 561 or contact us.

What our clients say

For us, there is nothing better than a happy customer. Here are just a few that let us know how much we mean to them.

Pete Dungey

Simple, efficient and most importantly, hassle-free.

We found Panthera via our search for a Xero expert. We knew the software we wanted to use, and needed a forward-thinking accountancy partner who could get us up and running, and teach us the ropes moving forward. Tory and her team have always been on hand to answer our questions, and help us to grow as a business, particularly during periods of big change, such as becoming VAT registered. They are always on hand to alleviate any concerns and help to keep our records in order, which makes our year-end accounts an absolute breeze! Being based in Bristol, our relationship is entirely email based, alongside one consolidation meeting at year end - this keeps things simple, efficient and most importantly, hassle-free.

Pete Dungey Kaleido Grafik Limited
Anita van Eijndhoven

Talk Our Language

The support and service we receive from Panthera Accounting is very good. Everything from regular meetings, a prompt e mail response and the transition of our Xero software (which we find very pro active indeed) has and is all remarkably efficient. We find Panthera talk our language and make any process as painless and easy as possible.

Anita van Eijndhoven Quidne-IT
Ash & Tim Lane

Panthera brush aside the stereotype of the typical accountant

We got in touch with Panthera Accounting by way of a recommendation; we haven't looked anywhere else since. They are an extremely professional yet relaxed group of people. We were slightly daunted by the idea of accountants but Panthera brushed aside y the stereotypes. They are very understanding when answering any questions we may have. They are completely efficient, offer sound business advice, and are fantastically priced. We will continue to recommend them.

Ash & Tim Lane Starveacre Fencing
Jayne Johnson

An Asset to my Business!

The whole team at Panthera are great! Working with them has been a huge support to my growing business. They help me to understand the numbers I need to know. They give me technology solutions like Xero so that I can process things quickly and have access to my own figures. They are quick to reply, highly knowledgeable, nothing is too much trouble and as well as making sure that everything is compliant and on time, they are enthusiastic, professional and fun to work with.

Jayne Johnson Better People
John Baker

Absolute joy - they provide a first class service on every level

Working with Tory and the team at Panthera is an absolute joy - they provide a first class service on every level; from simple Xero issues through to more complicated tax enquiries, they’re always on-hand to help me get it right. I’m certainly not their biggest customer, but I’m always made to feel like their most important one.

John Baker BKR Solutions
John Castle

Professional and Friendly

I would like to say that Panthera Accounting have helped me with my business accounts for more than 4 years now. They have consistently offered an excellent competitively priced service that works both professionally and in such a friendly way that I would highly recommend them to everyone considering using their services.

John Castle Ilexanna Limited & Birch Castle Homes Limited
Jonathan Morrison

They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues

I had been with Mr Dunn for 20 years when upon his death Panthera took over the business. They now play a bigger part in the running of my business, they do all the stuff that has to be done but I don't like doing ie book keeping, VAT, wages, and returns. They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues and make sure all Tax deadlines are met. Their costs are fair, service is great and I have and would highly recommend them.

Jonathan Morrison Wallingford Builders
Pippa Scott

Professional, friendly and personal service.

Panthera Accounting have gone above and beyond the call of duty to guide and support our Company. They offer a professional, friendly and personal service that can take the stressful and sometimes frightening feelings out of running a business. They have guided us through the working of Xero and have offered “teaching sessions” on the day to day running of the accountancy package. Our only regret is that we didn’t join their team earlier.

Pippa Scott Scott's Commercial Services Limited
Sara Southey

Panthera puts the personal back in to accountancy!

Tory and her team have provided a friendly, approachable and helpful service from the start. They have delivered a quality service, above and beyond anything I could have expected. Panthera, with the help of the Xero package, have taken the stress, strain and confusion out of managing my company and personal accounts. I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

Sara Southey Bluestones Garden Design
Tracey Miller

Panthera are fantastic.

Panthera are fantastic. Always professional, going the extra mile for their clients and delivering superb service. I recommend them all the time to my clients.

Tracey Miller Bigger, Brighter, Bolder BBB

Contact Us

Panthera will use the details that you have entered into this form to communicate with you on the subject of your message, and for no other purpose.
Please see our privacy policy for more details on how we manage your data.

Lets Get Started

Not Currently A Client?

Moving to Panthera is as easy as 1,2,3...

  1. We jump on a quick call to create the perfect service package for your business
  2. You e- sign your terms of engagement
  3. We get your authority to talk to HMRC on your behalf

And that’s it! From contacting your previous accountant, to updating Companies House with your new registered office address, let us handle all of the admin so that you can get on with running your business, safe in the knowledge that everything is going smoothly in the background.

Talk to Us