The top 10 things SMEs think they should be doing to stay afloat

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10 things SMEs think they should be doing to stay afloat 

Are you a financial fanatic constantly checking your business’s cashflow, or are you more focused on the future of your company?

This light-hearted quiz shows what kind of business owner you are.

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With each outcome, it also offers ways to rethink to help small businesses thrive in this tricky economic climate.

It comes as research found six in 10 small business owners say their only goal for year is just to stay afloat.

A poll of 500 British small business owners and decision makers also found 43 per cent believe adaptability - the trying and testing of new processes and ways to do business - is critical to delivering success.

The survey found having a presence on online marketplaces (26 per cent), selling via social media (24 per cent), reducing systems and streamlining operations (21 per cent) and finding new markets abroad (18 per cent), are other ways they believe they can stay afloat in this current climate.  

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Not surprisingly, 58 per cent are worried about their business revenue for the rest of 2023.

The findings are from PayPal’s Business of Change 2023 report, which aims to encourage SMEs to rethink the potential of their business.

It found that SME owners believe over a third (36 per cent) of revenue on average has come from thinking outside the box.

Vincent Belloc, managing director, PayPal UK, said: “We recognise the many challenges currently facing UK small businesses.

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“But we hope that our latest findings inspire SMEs to rethink their potential and the ways they do business for the better, moving away from just surviving, to a thriving mindset in 2023.

“Our report of 500 SMEs highlights that many are being held back by managing too many business systems taking up valuable time.

"Small business owners are looking for all-in-one solutions to help them improve efficiencies and allow them to do what they do best - sell and grow”.

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Alternatives to approaching a business

Despite finding success from trying and testing new processes, almost half (46 per cent) admit to not rethinking how they could approach their business differently.

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In fact, the report revealed the biggest barrier to rethinking new ways of working is worrying about finding the right people to help enact them (22 per cent).

Just over a fifth (21 per cent) stress about the day-to-day overheads, and 15 per cent don’t have a deep enough knowledge of international trade.

Yet hope remains, as 70 per cent are hopeful their business will reach its potential in the next five years, further supported by 77 per cent who agreed it took longer than one year to start seeing results.

But it isn’t just the flagging economy holding small businesses back, as 54 per cent of owners admitted to feeling overwhelmed by the multiple different financial and operating systems needed to run their business.

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And 59 per cent believe they’d be able to rethink their business potential if their operations were streamlined efficiently.

When looking to other factors holding SMEs back, the data showed 34 per cent still do not have a website, according to the OnePoll figures.

Nearly three in 10 (28 per cent) are yet to have their own social media channels and 47 per cent do not have a presence on online global marketplaces.

Vincent Belloc, from PayPal UK, added: “When you’re running a small business, and sitting at the very top, you have so many different things to think about.

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"At one time you can be acting as CFO and thinking about cashflow, the next you’re in marketing and planning promotions on social media.

“But it is encouraging to see the general positive sentiment UK small businesses have about the future and as a trusted payments partner, our all-in-one solution can help them focus on what’s most important - managing and growing their business.”  

10 things SME's think they should be doing to stay afloat: 

  1. Make time to think differently about your business
  2. Keep a close eye on all outgoings
  3. Improve customer service
  4. Sell through online marketplaces
  5. Sell via social media
  6. Invest in digital platforms to improve customer experiences
  7. Reduce prices
  8. Reduce advertising/marketing budgets
  9. Find new markets abroad
  10. Reduce systems & streamline operations
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