According to a recent survey by HSBC UK, sustainability and digitalisation offer some business growth but the majority of SMEs worry about lockdowns and supply chain disruption in 2022.
SMEs told us that the biggest threats to their business next year are lockdowns (29%), supply chain disruption (12%) and inflation (9%); all of which they expect to lead to a loss of revenue (46%) and reduced profit margins (19%). The research also revealed that increased costs and transport delays along the supply chain led to one in five SMEs changing their suppliers in a move to mitigate against both operational and financial risks.
When asked to identify their biggest opportunity in 2022, 48% of SMEs could not identify one or didn’t believe there would be any at all. Those that did identify an opportunity pointed to the areas of sustainability (12%) and digitisation (11%).
Peter McIntyre, Head of Small Business Banking, HSBC UK, said: “Businesses are used to dealing with market pressures but this research shows they need – more than ever – to stay close to their financials, maximise their cash flow and mitigate against operational risks that are within their control. We know that SMEs are resilient and during 2022, they will need to continue to adapt at speed to navigate the pandemic and take advantage of opportunities from digitisation, sustainability and the new free trade agreements.”
With many of the new import and export controls from Brexit coming into force in January, 46% of SMEs admit that they do not know how to get the most out of Free Trade Agreements and believe that the subject needs to be more widely publicised and more education is needed.
Peter McIntyre added: “The very best SMEs are fantastic at adapting quickly to changes that they see impacting their business. Those that have not only survived but also thrived over the past two years have digitised their operations and tightened their supply chains.”