SMEs performing strongly as lessons from the credit crunch keep them safe

Tim Wallace
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REVENUES are growing or at least staying put for most small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) despite the grim economic outlook, according to the Sage Business Index, released yesterday.

Businesses across the world reported a relatively stable outlook, as 69 per cent experienced steady or growing revenues over the past six months. Spanish firms are in the worst position, with 44 per cent reported falling revenues.

Excessive bureaucracy and legislation was cited as one of the top two concerns in every country involved in the survey, while 38 per cent of British firms also say the tax burden is too high.

But despite the renewed financial crises, just 17 per cent of firms reported a lack of funding as a major challenge.

“Credit is not always needed to grow – it depends on factors like cash flow,” said Sage’s chief executive Guy Berruyer. “And on top of that, many SMEs have learnt to cope with the funding environment over the last few years – they need banks less now.”

That point is emphasised by David Hathiramani, founder of A Suit That Fits, a small clothing firm. “We were enormously concerned in mid-2008, and had to lay off some staff,” he said.

“But that experience led us to change how the business runs, and we can continue growing despite the wider economic problems.”