Small business owners are passionate, determined and ambitious about their business. When looking to the future, they’re often faced with conflicting instincts. For example, the need to ensure their ongoing security and the need to invest further to allow their business to reach greater heights and fulfil longer term goals.
Recent months have presented some of the starkest examples of this. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have experienced losses in income and reduced customer spending, as well as being hit by broader economic uncertainty. At the same time, workplaces and businesses have had to change rapidly, introducing new measures and infrastructure in order to continue operating in a drastically different world.
To balance these two needs, small businesses might need to look for funding support from their brokers and banks. According to our research, in the next 12 months, the average small business owner expects that they will borrow as much as £65,0001. In some cases, this will be to maintain a business’ bottom line, in others, it will be to take advantage of new opportunities and adapt to a changing world.
What sort of funding options are available to small businesses?
The UK Government has introduced a number of new forms of funding to help small businesses during the Covid-19 crisis. Many small businesses will either have considered or already applied for some of this funding.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is a partnership with the British Business Bank and provides us and other accredited lenders with a government-backed guarantee. This potentially allows us to provide asset finance assistance programmes to SMEs to support their investment in new and used assets2. We are also accredited for invoice finance CBILS products. This lets us offer existing and prospective clients with an invoice finance top-up or term loan product.
Without CBILS, SMEs would have experienced difficulty raising such finance due to the impacts of COVID-19.
You can find more details on the Government funded schemes in our guide.
However, when considering the best funding option, there are also other specialist products that might appeal to a small business owner. Tom Brown, of financial brokers PMD Business Finance, commented that: “There are still traditional methods of finance out there. These are still very relevant to businesses – whether that be asset finance, invoice finance, property funding or asset refinance”. 3
Each funding option has different elements that make them more or less suited to individual businesses. As such, it may be advisable to consult a broker when assessing which options are most suitable for you.
How to borrow responsibly
Small businesses can do this by making sure that they’re planning and forecasting in line with their working capital requirements, and their need for funds - whether it is for product supplies, technology or people. It’s vital, when making these decisions, that business leaders consider both the short and medium-term impact, in order to put their business in the best possible position for ongoing success.
At times, businesses may need to rely on a number of various financial products at any one time, to achieve their goals. In order to do this responsibly, it may be beneficial to use guidance from brokers, accountants or financial advisers. They can assess their circumstances and provide guidance to help avoid any unforeseen complications.
Where businesses might consider investing
At present, many businesses are likely to be looking at how they can secure their long-term future. Our recent research found that nearly a quarter of businesses (23%)4 intended to build a safety net in anticipation of economic hardship. Similarly, there were indications that businesses would invest in order to retain their current customer base (15%)2.
However, many businesses will look to use funds not only for stability, but also to adapt and grow. A small business owner could consider investing to improve their technology infrastructure to help them better operate online (22%) and to improve their ability to support remote, flexible working for their employees (18%)4. This will allow businesses to lessen some of the impact of social distancing or the risks of a second lockdown, while also providing flexibility and opportunity to their people. Tom Brown of PMD Business Finance highlights that small businesses could: “Invest in newer assets and equipment, which in turn will increase productivity and reduce overheads.”
The value of a broker
Borrowing money is an important factor in a small business success and there are benefits to using a broker to help navigate these waters, particularly as times are changing quickly. Our research found that SMEs who consulted with a broker were more likely to use a diverse range of funding options to meet their needs.5 .While small businesses continue focus on getting their operations under control, financial resources may be stretched and leaders will benefit from additional guidance on the right funding package. A third of SME decision makers (27%)5 who used a broker felt more supported and had access to a tailored process which was specific to their needs.
Whatever your aspirations, we provide a range of specialist funding solutions to aid in both short and long-term goals.
1Source: Research conducted by Opinium Research between 7 and 13 May 2020 with a sample of 503 senior decision makers in UK SMEs.
2Source: British Business Bank
3Source: Tom Brown, Managing Director – PMD Business Finance.
PMD Business Finance is one of a selection of asset finance brokers we work with to offer finance solutions to customers.
Subject to status. Security may be required. Any property or asset used as security may be at risk if you do not repay any debt secured on it.
4Source: Research conducted by Opinium Research between 3 and 13 July 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 1,006 senior decision makers in UK SMEs. The followed previous research conducted by Opinium Research between 23 and 30 April 2020 with a nationally representative sample size of 1,000 senior decision makers in UK SMEs
5Source : Research conducted by Opinium Research between 21 October and 4 November 2019 with a nationally representative sample size of 1,128 senior decision makers in UK SMEs