Rob Straathof is CEO at Liberis, and talks about how UK SMEs can overcome some common challenges.
With new government regulations, disruptive technologies and an uncertain economic chapter about to set in, small businesses are being presented with numerous challenges. As SMEs account for 99.3% of all UK private sector businesses and contribute a staggering £200bn a year to the UK economy, they are undeniably vital to Britain’s financial makeup. We need to make sure more support is available to them.
Liberis’ recent research revealed that 62% of small businesses view funding as a mechanism to grow, and among the top three reasons for requiring funding were ‘keeping up to date’, ‘marketing’ and ‘paying tax and bills’.
In addition to ensuring increased access to funding is available, we’ve looked into each of these three areas and provided some extra guidance on each – offering advice to help UK SMEs achieve their ambitions.
Keeping up to date
Keeping up to date – whether it be with new technology, regulations or consumer trends – is a full-time task, and often daunting for a busy small business owner.
Luckily free analytics services are becoming increasingly more accessible and are a great tool for any small business to use when updating their website and marketing strategy. Once a website is aligned with an analytics service, a huge amount of information on users can be made available. This information covers details such as where a customer is from, key topics, and what brings in the most traffic and conversions. This insight is crucial for refining sales processes and keeping up to date with trends.
Mobile solutions are another great way to keep up to date. Provided the necessary software is available, nearly all business can be accessed from a mobile phone This is true for the customer, in terms of shopping, as well as the business owner in terms of management and accounting. Just as online shopping is dominating retail, online reviews are important to consider too. Shoppers are constantly sharing opinions, so having a strong online presence is important.
Marketing and social media
Establishing a strong online profile can lead to much opportunity for a small business. With social media becoming one of the most prolific and widely used platforms of communication, it is a fantastic platform to market a business.
Engaging directly in conversation with the target consumer through Facebook or Twitter is a simple place to begin, and a great way to understand an audience and help position a brand.
Online content creation is another marketing method to help entice new and existing customers. Whether this be through written or visual media, marketing through content can not only increase the number of clients, but also position the business as a more trusted resource.
Paying tax and bills
It is crucial to be clued up on incomings and outgoings, so that you can sustainably plan ahead for annual costs such as staff. Effective cashflow forecasting will help to avoid any nasty surprises! It is also important to consider a business’s high and low sales periods when thinking forward too. A supportive funding repayment plan can help with this, such as our Business Cash Advance that enables businesses to pay back in line with their daily cashflow.
Taking an organised and logical approach to paying bills can also help with making payments, or ensuring the business has the funds to pay on time. Some simple steps can be taken here, such as deciding on a regular ‘home’ for paper bills and documents or investigating how to automate payments electronically.
There is no doubt that this is an exciting time to build a business and being prepared for challenges will certainly help encourage growth. It is important to think about not only ensuring a business has the correct amount of funding, but also day-to-day challenges such as marketing, bill paying and keeping up to date are not deprioritised. All of these areas are important in helping small businesses not only to survive but to thrive.
 Liberis Q2 Research