6 March 2019

SMEs driven to succeed despite Brexit challenges

78% of companies met or exceeded business expectations last year with plans to grow in 2019

Despite the uncertainty that Brexit is currently affording businesses in the UK, SMEs are bucking the trend.  New research from leading business advisers and accountants, Scott-Moncrieff find that 78% of small businesses met or exceeded expectations last year.

In the “Still Going Strong: SME insights for 2019” report published today, it was also noted that despite the difficult trading environment that Brexit has created, SMEs are optimistic, with plans to invest more in their businesses this year. To combat the challenging economic landscape, the report outlined that companies plan to focus on training (48%) and growing their business within the UK (48%) alongside launching more products (36%) or developing products (36%).

Whilst it is encouraging to see this positive attitude to combat possible adversity, Scott-Moncrieff’s research of 700 senior business leaders from across the UK also revealed the reality of the situation.  Only 43% of SMEs in Scotland are confident about their business performance this year – marking the lowest confidence levels since the annual research began in 2013, and 10% lower than the UK national average of 53%.

More broadly across the UK, SMEs stated that they are also less confident than last year when it comes to meeting revenue (60% vs 71%) and profit targets (55% vs 64%).

While business groups are issuing warnings about the impact of Brexit, the research revealed that SMEs are most concerned about the strength of the UK economy this year; with 80% highlighting this as their number one concern. Brexit and the progression of deal negotiations was the second highest concern recorded at 55%. Other areas of concern for SMEs over the next 12 months include:

  • Skills shortage – 41%
  • Cyber-attacks – 25%
  • Pace of new technology – 24%

Gareth Magee, Partner at Scott-Moncrieff said: “Our research has revealed somewhat of a tale of two halves. While 2019 is set to bring uncertainty to businesses, there remains a level of optimism and a tenacity to overcome any barriers to grow. It’s important that SMEs grasp the opportunities that Brexit will provide and use them for good. Those that take this time to refine their product lines or facilities will put themselves in the best position to benefit from any future economic upswing and be able to resume ‘business as usual’ more quickly once policymakers agree the UK’s route forward post 29th March.”

The research findings were based on quantitative research and in-depth interviews with the leaders of SMEs to learn more about their experiences of 2018, their expectations for and concerns about 2019 and the strategies they aim to apply in their businesses.

Click here to read the full report.