The message is loud and clear; the time for business consolidation is over. Small to medium sized UK enterprises should be looking to create an international business that truly embraces digital technology to engage with new customers and take advantage of an unprecedented growth in confidence.
That’s according to a new survey conducted by a leading UK bank, which found that UK businesses are becoming increasingly confident about future growth. It found that business growth forecasts are at a three year high, with the emphasis now on breaking into new international business markets.
Whilst fears over getting proper and efficient access to finance remain, increasingly businesses are exploring non-traditional ways of accessing credit. Lenders such as ABN AMRO Commercial Finance are emerging as part of a new breed of alternative financiers.
The ONS GDP survey carried out in July found that the economy grew by 0.6% in Q2, with 1 in every 8 businesses reportedly actively seeking to hire additional staff as a top priority.
14% are seeking international business growth opportunities through acquisitions, doubling last year’s 7% figure. Despite the optimism however, 26% of businesses surveyed cited access to finance as an issue in holding back their efforts to grow.
Businesses are instead being urged to exploit existing opportunities through the development of the kind of digital technology that will enable them to engage with both new and existing customers.
Research conducted by 02 Business earlier this year found that 25% of consumers would not use an SME if it didn’t have a website. It is a failure tactic which is supposedly costing these small to mid-sized enterprises £13bn in missed sales, a substantial figure that could be put to good use in the international business market.
But simply having a website may not be enough. Business owners are being urged to look into innovative ways to convert visitors into sales, centred on social media engagement and getting customers talking up the brand or product.
So whilst not all is rosy in the garden, those green shoots of growth are starting to look healthier than they have for quite some time. It is those businesses who hit the ground running when the time comes for rapid expansion that will hold the competitive edge in 2014.