Big SME opportunity.

23 July 2013

There are almost 210,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the UK, according to the House of Commons Library Business Statistics, April 2013.  They have between 10 and 250 employees and represent almost 30% of total UK turnover.

We’ve analysed recent studies from contributors including the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Open University Business School to provide you with insight on the SME market. 

Although each business has its own challenges and some are performing better than others, the key findings highlighted many positive signs: 

  • Turnover rising
  • Increasing recruitment  
  • More SMEs making profit
  • Growing confidence about the future. 

As workforces grow it's likely that issues such as recruitment and retention, reward and recognition, and absenteeism become important to business owners.  And Group Protection can help provide solutions to these issues.

This summarises the findings on one page, and the article below explains the results in more detail.

Turnover rising

The BIS Small Business survey 2012 looked at turnover of firms with fewer than 250 employees. 

For 38% of small businesses, turnover in 2012 was up on the previous 12 months, an increase on the 33% reported in 2010.

The picture is even more positive for medium-sized businesses where 50% reported turnover up on the previous year, compared with 44% in 2010.

Increasing Recruitment

The latest Open University Business School survey of small business found that more than half of all SMEs had filled new roles in the last two years, with 31% hiring several people.

The BIS survey paints a similar picture:

  • Over one quarter, 27%, of small businesses were employing more people than in the previous 12 months (26% in 2010).
  • Medium-sized businesses showed the biggest change and 37% were employing more people than 12 months before, up from 29% in the 2010 survey.

The Open University survey also looked at the reasons for recruiting staff.  The top four, listed below, all highlight the need to attract quality staff, an area we believe where staff benefits including Group Protection can play a key role.

  • To replace an employee 59%
  • To cope with increased workload 48%
  • To take on a specific task 30%
  •  Succession planning 14%

More making profit 

The BIS study found that 75% of small business made a profit in their last financial year, up from 72% in 2010. 

The proportion increases as the business size increases as 86% of medium-sized businesses were in profit, compared with 81% in 2010.

Profitable companies are more likely to consider investing in or extending their employee benefit programmes.

Growing confidence about the future  

The Federation of Small Business reported that “Confidence hits a 3 year high” in the latest Voice of Small Business Index:

  • More firms expected to grow their business in the coming year.
  • More firms expected to be increasing staffing levels in the short term.
  • All UK regions and most business sectors were more confident than a year ago.

Similarly, the BIS study found that 68% of SME employers plan to grow their business over the next 2-3 years. This was especially the case in administrative services (79%), manufacturing (77%), business services (76%) and information/telecommunications (75%).

And a recent YouGov B2B survey showed SME business optimism increasing with size.  

  • Overall, 31% of SME owners expect 2013/14 turnover to be higher than 2012/13.
  • The proportion increases to 47% for medium-sized businesses.
  • Firms with turnover of £1m-£9.9m and £10m+ the figures are 44% and 60% respectively.

This paints a positive picture of the SME sector.  Significant parts are healthy, profitable and growing.

As their workforces grow issues such as recruitment, reward and recognition, retention and absenteeism become increasingly important.  

Group Protection can help provide solutions to these issues and with SMEs increasingly profitable and confident, they may be more willing to consider these solutions.

Read our which summarises these key findings on one page.

 BIG SME Opportunity Infographic 

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