Small businesses go through a financial workout

Our latest Business Barometer survey clearly indicates that small businesses are looking to keep their financial house in order and to get in shape for the coming months, with a big rise in the proportion planning to keep costs down (61%) up from 39% at the start of 2020.

Improving cash-flow jumped from 22% to 32% in six months as a top priority - as did a resolution to get much stricter on late payments – up from 18% to 27%.

Reviewing borrowing commitments has doubled in importance since lockdown up from 11% to 21% in just six months. The review of financial commitments correlated with 15% of business owners saying they needed to invest in new equipment.

Interestingly, sectors where small businesses were most likely to perceive barriers to growth last quarter - hospitality and leisure (96%), manufacturing (94%) and retail (91%) now emerge as the sectors where small businesses are working the hardest to bounce back.

Not only are these sectors regaining their confidence from last quarter – they also view their financial agility as a bedrock from which to secure growth.

The top three growth plans for hospitality and leisure:

    Keeping fixed costs down (75%)
    Reassessing finance commitments (46%)
    Improving cash flow (41%).


The top three growth plans for retail:

    Keeping fixed costs down (63%)
    Improving cash flow (38%)
    Reassessing finance commitments (21%)


The top three growth plans for manufacturing:

    Keeping fixed costs down (62%)
    Being stricter on getting paid on time (30%)
    Investing in new equipment (28%)

(The research was conducted by YouGov among a representative sample of 1,266 small business decision makes in July 2020 spanning industry sectors).