The business landscape

The business landscape

How SMEs are navigating staffing, ESG and funding

SMEs are investing in growth and on the hunt for new talent. They also have ESG in mind and are taking positive action on this.

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.

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 this year than last 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.

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.

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