Small businesses call for better tech and export opportunities in 2017

Businesses also cite rising oil & gas prices and the state of the economy as factors that could negatively impact growth

The UK’s small businesses have cited better availability of technology (37%) as the biggest factor that will have a positive impact on business growth in 2017, according to Barclays’ annual SME Hopes and Fears Index.

Access to international markets and export opportunities (30%), moving online and having a digital presence (22%), consumer demand (22%) and the state of the UK economy (21%), were voted as the next most important influencers on growth.

The index also asked business owners what factors would negatively impact growth over the following year, with gas and oil prices (43%), the state of the UK economy (42%) and inflation (40%) listed as the top three, followed by competition from similar businesses (35%) and fluctuating exchange rates (33%).

Following June’s Brexit vote, Article 50 being triggered (22%) and the UK leaving the EU (29%) were also cited as major concerns for small business owners going into 2017.

Regionally, those in the East of England were the most concerned about the economy and oil and gas prices (both 54%), while respondents in the North East thought inflation (41%) will have the biggest negative impact on growth next year.

Ian Rand, CEO for Barclays Business banking, said: “This is the time of year when many businesses are planning ahead, and our Hopes and Fears research shows that small businesses are aware of several challenges that may face them in 2017, but they also see many strong opportunities for growth.”

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