The business landscape

The business landscape

How SMEs are navigating staffing, ESG and funding

SMEs are in optimistic mode

That’s not to say there are not challenges – which are part of day-to-day life when running an SME. However, the outlook among SMEs is strong. More than two thirds of SME directors (67%) predicted their businesses would make more money during tax year 2022-23 than the previous year. 

Alongside this, the overwhelming majority (95%) are looking for funding for further growth. Meanwhile, SMEs are on a recruitment drive, 40% say they have hired employees in 2022, and 44% say they will be hiring new staff. 

And, alongside growth and investing in staff, firms are committing to ESG – with a staggering 98% of SME leaders now seeing it as important to their future business success.

Four routes to SME success.

Amid a difficult business environment we asked

the UK’s SMEs about the challenges they face

and the things they need for continued success.

Our survey results revealed some fascinating trends:

1. Immediate business challenges

SMEs are tackling a number of

immediate day-to-day challenges:

·       Supply chain issues

·       Staffing and recruitment,

·       Change in working patterns

·       Pandemic disruption

·       Rising costs including utilities and taxes

2. Recruiting, retaining and managing staff are a particular challenge:

25% or respondents are having

problems retaining talented staff.

3. An ESG strategy is becoming essential to SME business success:

95% of SMEs now have an

ESG strategy in place.

4. SMEs are seeking funding to drive growth:

95% of SME directors will be looking

for finance for their business growth plans in the next 12-18 months.

To help SMEs tackle these challenges

and achieve their aims we have launched a dedicated SME hub so you can strategise, develop and grow your SME.

Find out how SMEs are tackling four key issues

Business challenges

Business challenges

How SMEs are dealing with rising costs, and the issues they would most like to solve.



SMEs are making Environmental, Social, and Governance a priority. Find out about the driving forces behind this.

Current trends

An appetite for funding

The majority of SMEs are looking for finance to enable growth, and confidence in terms of earnings remains high.

Current trends

A changing work environment

From hiring staff to retaining talent, see how SMEs are adapting to a changed work environment.

About the research

This analysis is based on bespoke market research commissioned by Barclays and conducted by Censuswide among more than 800 directors in SMEs. The sample covered UK companies with a turnover of £6m-£50m and the research was conducted in June 2022.

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