New research released by Nucleus Commercial Finance has revealed that 74% of UK SME leaders are fearful about what 2019 holds.

The majority of SME leaders have concerns about the impact one or more external factors will have on their business. Brexit leads the way (27%) and is closely followed by:

  • The sudden loss of a major client (18%)
  • A repeat of the 2008 banking crisis (17%)
  • Unexpected environmental issues (such as extreme weather conditions) (14%)
  • Multiple staff losses (14%)
  • A sudden, unexpected reputational issue (14%)

In order to prepare for the new year and protect their business from potentially negative forces, 61% of SME leaders will use the upcoming festive period to plan in some way.

When it comes to what they are planning for, 83% of SMEs have set goals for their business in 2019. However, the top goal is to maintain the same level of business (35%) as they delivered in 2018 – showing a dampened ambition. Outside of maintaining business, the top aims for SMEs in 2019 are:

  • Deliver greater profit (27%)
  • Increase staff (18%)
  • Put a renewed focus on your brand/marketing/online presence (16%)
  • Launch a new product (14%)
  • Expand into new international markets (10%)

A quarter (25%) are dedicated planners at this time of year and always use the festive break as an opportunity to plan.

Chirag Shah, CEO of Nucleus Commercial Finance, said “As we approach the start of 2019 business leaders’ thoughts and attention is increasingly turning to the highs and lows next year will inevitably hold. Whether your business goal for 2019 is to ride out the uncertainty of Brexit or to deliver record-breaking profits, taking the time to plan and consider your route to success is essential. As a part of this ensuring, you have the finances in place to deliver your 2019 objectives will help you to focus on the job at hand, knowing that the finance you need is already in place. By speaking to your advisers or financial providers now, you can be supported to achieve your ambitions for 2019.”

The data has also revealed that:

  • Female SME business leaders are also more likely to take the opportunity to plan than their male counterparts (30% vs 21% respectively)
  • And they are also more likely to have set objectives for their business (21% vs 15% respectively)
  • Brexit was the top fear for businesses in all regions apart from in the West Midlands, where the impact of suddenly losing a major client (24%) was feared to have the most detrimental impact.

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