Posted: February 23, 2018 By BC India

The SME Relationship with Finance 2018: Growth, Needs and Access

SMEs contribute more than £200bn a year; with this number expected to grow by almost 20% by 2025. Yet, without a vital cash injection, this 2025 vision could be severely stinted.

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The lifeblood of the UK economy, SMEs contribute more than £200bn a year; with this number expected to grow by almost 20% by 2025. Yet, without a vital cash injection, this 2025 vision could be severely stinted.

With these ambitions and potential obstacles in mind, we wanted to speak with the SMEs themselves to find out more about their relationship with business finance: why do they need it, and can they access it when needed?

Small Business Ambitions

Before delving into the depths of funding and industry awareness, we wanted to find out exactly how small businesses were thinking about their growth ambitions; the catalysts behind their need for finance.

Speaking with 200 small business owners, we found that most aren’t looking to become big players in their industries, and are instead focusing investment on longevity and stability closer to home; with 49% stating that they expect their business to be operating in ten years’ time.

In regard to those who said they were moving towards expansion, 35% of respondents agreed – with certainty – that they have ambitions to become a well-known brand; whilst just 25% said that they are looking to expand into new markets. Is this true of your business? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.

Looking closer, we can see that the small businesses most committed to growth tend to be businesses younger than ten years old; most commonly restaurants, cafés, and health and beauty businesses too. This may be due to new technologies developing in these sectors, presenting businesses with the refreshed opportunity for growth and access to customers.

Why Is Funding Needed?

So, when it comes to business funding, what do SMEs need it for?

With 62% of surveyed businesses reporting that they need funding primarily for business growth, our research found that most small businesses don’t view funding as a need, but rather as an enabler for reaching their goals. Most of these businesses were aged between 6 to 10 years, followed closely by those aged 3 – 5 years, suggesting that the motive to grow comes naturally to a business after a few years finding their feet.

Meanwhile, 22% of respondents said that they need funding to maintain business as usual, and just 5% said they need it to help them survive.

Access To Finance

Despite their need for funding, less than half of small business owners reported that they have full access to all the funding they need; the main hindering factor here being a lack of education or understanding of available funding options, with 57% of SMEs unsure which provider to obtain funding from and 53% without a set amount in mind when looking to access finance.

What’s more, only 35% of business owners stated that they felt confident that they would be accepted when applying for additional finance.

“These findings have opened our eyes to a lack of confidence and awareness among SMEs in how to correctly secure the funding they so desperately need,” says Rob Straathof, CEO at Liberis. “Funding will continue to be a hot topic for the small business community, but urgent action and collaboration is crucial to prevent resulting damage to the UK economy. Without sufficient financial education and support, the UK’s business ambitions will be severely affected but by ensuring they have the correct financial understanding, we can help secure and strengthen their livelihood; fast-tracking their ambitions.”

Such movement has been demonstrated in recent reports from the British Business Bank, in which the UK Government backed organisation pledges its dedication to a more targeted educational campaign on the topic of SME finance moving forward.


Conducted via Circle Research, a B2B research specialist, based on 200 UK small businesses, February 2018.

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