Danger ahead: small firms don’t have an eye to the future, finds new research
During the recession, fire-fighting was the order of the day for many businesses. Keeping the lights on was more pressing than spending a few days off-site sketching out five-year plans. But now the economy is beginning to get back on a more even keel, it may be time to begin thinking more carefully about the future, suggests a survey.
The research from energy provider npower found that more than half of the UK’s SMEs are only planning for the next six to 12 months. More than 40% of SMEs say the day-to-day running of a business is preventing long-term plans being made, and many said the uncertain economic climate and subsequent concerns about cashflow was preventing them doing that.
This isn’t to say that the intention isn’t there: 55% of the 500 SMEs surveyed for the research said they wished they could plan further in advance. The time may be right for them to do just that, with keeping an eye on business costs first of the to-do list.
At a time when energy prices are higher than ever, it is no surprise that 41% of SMEs see energy efficiency as a key business priority, while a none-too-shabby number (43%) have examined the energy marketplace and switched energy suppliers at least twice.
Phil Scholes, SME markets director at npower, says more small firms need to shop around. “The energy picture formed by the SMEs’ responses demonstrates that, while some companies have embraced a strategy to minimise energy cost risk, as well as undertaking measures to reduce energy consumption levels and cost, many others are still not taking advantage of the solutions on offer,” he said.
“Addressing energy costs by switching suppliers, fixing price and embracing energy efficiency, will improve the bottom line and help small businesses plan confidently for the future.”
The UK economy might not be quite out of the woods yet, but that’s no excuse for SMEs to not carefully plan for the medium- to long-term. Times are still tough, for sure, but how can companies expect to win when they don’t even have a gameplan?