Business growth funding enquiries surge by 277% despite economic challenges

Undeterred by economic challenges, businesses are resolute in their aims for expansion - evidenced by a remarkable surge of 277% in funding enquiries.

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October 2023 update: after a short dip, funding is back on the rise

A new report reveals that remote funding rounds are now offering new growth prospects, but at the same time, the process is leading to burnout among entrepreneurs. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s important to strike a balance between seizing new opportunities and take measures to safeguard your team’s well-being in order to navigate this new and challenging landscape successfully.

Even amid economic hardships, new data reveals a remarkable surge in business funding enquiries. 

According to a research study conducted by independent finance broker Charles & Dean, businesses are once again looking towards investment to fuel growth. The research found that funding enquiries saw a 277% surge in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period last year. 

The total number of funding transactions has increased by almost a third (30%), and there’s been an 11% rise in the total amount funded, compared to the first quarter of 2022.

See our guide for 10 Ways to Fund Your Business Without a Bank Loan

The top funding growth hotspots

The top funding enquiry hotspots in the UK were identified by the report as Northern Ireland and West Midlands, the two regions that are also experiencing the highest annual growth in finance enquiries. 

Meanwhile, the report found that the South East and East Midlands are securing the most finance. In particular, the South East stands as the primary hub for asset finance investment, with over a fifth (21%) of total UK enquiries originating from this region. 

The most significant investment growth however was observed in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands, leading the way in year-on-year investment increases. These regions have experienced growth rates of 500% and 467% respectively in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period last year.

At the county level, Lancashire and Kent have seen funding enquiries increase tenfold compared to Q1 2022. Essex and Bristol have witnessed respective growth rates of 650% and 600%.

Sector level trends

The research found that construction displayed the highest demand for funding, accounting for nearly a third (31%) of all financial requests. 

Utilities and hospitality sectors are also leading in terms of growth in enquiries, with the water supply, sewerage, waste management, and remediation sector experiencing a 1,000% increase in finance enquiries. There was a similar growth rate in the accommodation and food service industry (compared to the first quarter of 2022). 

While UK SMEs are eager to increase investment across the board, plant and equipment, as well as technology and software, were identified as the sectors with the highest-growth in enquiries for business finance.

Cautious optimism is the theme of 2023

Tom Perkins, director and co-founder at Charles & Dean remarked: “Despite the impact of rising inflation, interest rates, and decreased consumer spending due to the cost-of-living crisis, UK SMEs maintain a cautious optimism.”

Cautious optimism has emerged as the prevailing theme for 2023. The challenges and setbacks of recent years have instilled a sense of prudence and careful consideration among individuals and businesses alike. 

In the past, business finance options were limited to overdrafts and fixed-term loans. However, news emerged that banks were starting to rein in SME lending last month. 

Despite this, there are a range of new solutions that business owners can obtain. For instance, there are some great new business finance solutions for female entrepreneurs in particular right now, borne out of ambitions to close the gender funding gap.

As business owners strive for growth even amid the cost of living crisis, it’s crucial they are able to access a variety of financial options, helping them to gain a competitive advantage and flourish in the long term.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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