Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:
UK SMEs fear slow growth ahead of Brexit
Small businesses in the UK fear they will have to cut back investment over the next year as they prepare for Brexit. The SME trends survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that business optimism has declined at the fastest pace since the Brexit vote. In addition, confidence in export prospects for the next year fell at a similar rate as during the financial crisis. While 11 per cent of companies said they were more optimistic about their business situation, 30 per cent were less optimistic. SMEs also expect to reduce capital expenditure on plant and machinery, training and product and process innovation over the next 12 months.
Goldman Sachs offers support to small businesses
Investment bank Goldman Sachs and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford have joined forces to help small businesses in the UK. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme encourages participants to empower their people to take on more responsibility and consider their long-term strategy. The Goldman Sachs Foundation’s ‘Building Small Business Britain’ report found that more than 1,400 alumni of the programme, which launched in 2011, have experienced favourable business outcomes since graduating from the programme. Among these, 71 per cent took on external financing and 62 per cent launched a new product or service within a year.
Small business ahead on automation
Small businesses are automating their businesses faster than their larger peers, according to Andrew Harding, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Automation and artificial intelligence are taking root in the business world, marking the beginnings of what could be the most significant technological revolution since the invention of the internet. Research shows that 18 per cent of small businesses have already automated parts of their business, compared to 15 per cent of mid-sized businesses. This is despite 26 per cent of mid-sized businesses stating that a significant proportion of their operations could be automated, compared to 13 per cent of small businesses.
Barclays launches free digital invoicing tool for SME customers
Barclays has launched a new digital tool for its SME customers aimed at helping them speed up the invoicing process. The mobile invoice tool, coming for the existing Barclays Mobile Banking app, enables small business owners to create and send invoices straight from their phone. Fill out fields including: invoice number, client name, dates, rate and VAT. This is used to generate an invoice or PDF file and send it directly to their client. Users can also track, manage and reconcile their invoices.
Mental wellbeing affected by financial problems in more than half of SME management
Financial problems have had a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of 55 per cent of senior managers in SMEs, according to research commissioned by merchant banking organisation Close Brothers Invoice Finance. A survey of 900 SME owners and business managers across the UK and Ireland revealed that a third of respondents have felt anxious due to monetary stresses, and eight per cent have felt depressed. Those in the most senior roles were more likely to be affected, with 86 per cent of chief executives saying that their organisation’s financial problems or concerns had adversely affected their wellbeing, compared to 43 per cent of other managers.
SME employee engagement platform launched
A new social media platform aspiring to be a British version of LinkedIn focusing on career development has launched. Engaging Works requires users to complete an online questionnaire to measure how happy they are in the workplace. The average person scores 633 out of 1,000, according to Engaging Works. Employers who subscribe to the platform can then use the anonymous employee data to get an insight into employee engagement and satisfaction compared to other companies.