Technology is most important factor for SME growth in 2016 16 Dec 2015 09:00 Barclays Business reveals what SMEs believe will have greatest positive and negative impact on growth in 2016 Extreme weather and business competition among the greatest concerns for businesses in 2016 The UK’s small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) believe that the availability of better technology will be the most important contributor for business growth next year¹, with 39% citing it will have a positive impact, up from its position in second place last year² according to research from Barclays Business. The findings, which polled decision makers of UK SMEs on the impact of a series of factors on their business growth in 2016, also revealed that consumer demand will be vital to accelerate growth, although this fell from first to second most influential factor with a net score of 32%, while international markets/opportunities overseas (25%) remain a key focus for business growth appearing in the top three. The other key factors that SMEs believe will have a net positive impact on growth in 2016 include a move to online or improvements in digital presence (23%), and major sporting and cultural events, such as the Rio Olympics (10%). Stifling growth When it comes to the factors expected to hinder growth in 2016, extreme weather takes the top spot, with a net score of -23% of SMEs surveyed believing it will have a negative impact on their business. Money or funding constraints (-20%) as well as competition among similar businesses (-18%) are also concerns for the year ahead. Rebecca McNeil, Head of SME Lending at Barclays, commented: “Our 2016 Hopes & Fears poll highlights how SMEs are aware of the opportunities as well as risks to their growth in the New Year. It is encouraging to see that many SMEs recognise the importance of technology for their business growth. It is therefore essential that businesses are given the right support, tools and guidance to enable them to embrace any new opportunities to maximise their growth. “Businesses recognise that there are challenges to growth, such as extreme weather and access to funding, which remain a concern for some. We understand these challenges and are committed to doing all we can to minimise its impact. If a business is concerned about adverse weather impacting them planning ahead and speaking to their bank can help to manage cash flow. Currently we are the only bank to provide pre-assessed loan limits to businesses, giving SMEs the confidence they need to invest and scale-up their growth.” Notes to editors Net scores = % of respondents who think it will have a positive impact on their business growth in 2016 minus % of respondents who think it will have a negative impact on their business growth in 2016. ¹2015 research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Barclays, 500 online interviews with UK senior decision makers/business owners in SMEs defined as having 250 or less employees, between 13th-16th November 2015. ² 2014 research conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Barclays, 516 online interviews with UK senior decision makers in SMEs defined as having 250 or less employees, between 17th-28th November 2014: About Barclays Barclays is an international financial services provider engaged in personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management with an extensive presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Barclays’ purpose is to help people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.With 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 130,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website www.home.barclays .