Almost a third of UK SMEs (30%) have cited economic uncertainty following the potential outcome of Brexit as their main concern for 2019, according to new figures.
The research commissioned by the Co-operative Bank asked SMEs about their outlook for 2019 based upon a range of issues.
Some 19% of respondents feared an increase in operating costs, followed by concerns with regard to competition (17%) and higher supplier costs (14%).
Despite the challenges faced by SMEs, they remained optimistic about the opportunities available to them over the coming months – with a fifth of respondents (20%) claiming that they were looking to acquire more customers during 2019.
In addition, one in five (20%) were exploring the development of new products and services, while 14% were considering the role of networks and partnerships in helping to expand their business.
“At the start of a new year, many of us pause to reflect on the challenges and opportunities which are likely to emerge over the coming months,” said Ryan Etchells, head of business banking at the Co-operative Bank.
“While the economic and political outlook remains uncertain, it is difficult to know exactly what to expect and how to plans for the impact of many of the scenarios we face.
“However, the UK’s SMEs are hugely resilient, and willing to adapt in order to succeed; indeed, while Brexit remains the foremost challenge on their minds, there are some that also recognise this may also create opportunities for them.
“While they cannot control the world around them, by remaining focused and committed to fulfilling their customers’ needs, SMEs can still look at opportunities to grow during 2019.”
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