The survival skills Britain’s SMEs need in 2017

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Almost one in five of Britain’s SMEs are missing payday in battle to stay in business

  • 17% of British small and medium-sized enterprises have missed a payday
  • Business leaders are self-financing with 19% of SMEs relying on personal savings for financial support
  • Reassuringly, businesses have a positive outlook with over a third (36%) of SMEs more confident about their growth prospects for 2017 (compared with last year)

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LONDON, 28th March 2017: British businesses are feeling the pinch with nearly a fifth (17%) missing payday[1] in order to survive.

Despite being responsible for nearly half of Britain’s economic activity[2], research commissioned by npower Business has shown the shocking extent to which SMEs are struggling to keep their head above water.

In an increasingly competitive and complex economic landscape, SMEs businesses were found to be predominately self-financing with over half (57%) of businesses claiming they don’t rely on anyone or anything for financial support these days. Less than one in five (19%) also rely heavily on personal savings.

As with the Brexit vote, which split the country, business are also split in their confidence for growth over the coming year. Over a third (36%) of SMEs are more confident about their business growth prospects for 2017, compared with last year, mainly due to the economic outlook for Britain and the decision to leave the EU. However, a quarter (25%) of the respondents are less confident about their business growth prospects for 2017, with 67% of these attributing this to Brexit.

SMEs account for more than 99% of private sector businesses in the United Kingdom and provide employment for 16.8 million people[3].Their economic contribution should not be underestimated and that’s why npower Business has partnered with Tim Campbell, winner of the first series of BBC’s The Apprentice, to highlight the importance of these businesses, and the necessity for increased support from each other, larger businesses and Government.

Richard Longbottom, Acting Head of npower Business, said: “SMEs are super powering towns and cities across Britain, helping to determine the success and character of regions across the UK. However, it’s clear from our research that some of these businesses are relying entirely on themselves to succeed. At npower Business, we believe SMEs could do more to learn from each other in the same way that we continually learn from those who we talk to everyday. This is why we are calling on SMEs to share their superpowers and learn from each other to help improve their bottom line.”


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About the research

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1088 SME Senior Decision Makers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th– 21st February 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of SME business sizes.


About npower Business

npower Business is one of the leading energy suppliers to the UK business market, serving gas and electricity to more than 195,000 small-to-medium sized businesses (SMEs).  Dedicated to helping UK SMEs, by helping our customers better understand and manage energy, we help them to reduce their energy costs and in turn improve their bottom line. We’re in touch with more than 1000 SMEs and through them, we hear what business owners want from their energy company and the issues they face when running a business.

npower Business is part of npower Group.

About Tim Campbell

Tim Campbell first became known to the British public after being hired by Lord Alan Sugar in the first series of the BBC’s The Apprentice. Since then Tim Campbell, who was awarded the MBE for Enterprise Culture in the 2012 New Year’s Honours List, has gone on to found businesses, speak favour business to global audiences and start the charitable organisation called the Bright Ideas Trust. Bright Ideas Trust has supported over 250 innovative start- ups all started by 16-30 year olds in London.  Whether it be creating wealth and employment or changing the world, Tim believes that business, in the right hands, is the catalyst of modern positive change.

Contact details:

npower press office

0845 070 2807


Golin – Dafydd Wyn

020 7067 0865


[1] Missing payday is defined here as not paying employees or the business owner not paying themselves

[2] Capital Economics, Prospects for SME growth in the United Kingdom: An assessment of the economic performance and outlook for the SME sector in cities and regions across the United Kingdom, September 2016

[3] IBID

Like what you’ve read? Why not join us on twitter @npowerbusiness #energytogrow and Linkedin at npower Business

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