The research also highlights how SMEs would use the additional investment, with 20 percent responding that they would expand their business into new markets if they were to apply for a business loan in the future, whilst 21 per cent would use it to purchase new equipment.
Travers Clarke-Walker, Product and Marketing Director of Barclays Business, who commissioned the research, said: “Our research suggests some entrepreneurs, particularly those larger SMEs, may be harbouring ambitions to expand their business. It is particularly encouraging that SMEs would invest additional finance in expanding into new markets or purchasing new equipment as it indicates a real focus on growth and level of confidence for the year ahead.”
“Barclays continues to agree four out of five business lending applications, so the evidence is clear: we’re open for business for lending, and we want to hear from good businesses with viable plans. Recently, we agreed with others in the finance industry to create the capacity to support gross new lending of £190 billion to UK businesses, including small and medium sized businesses, and we would be willing to lend even more if demand from viable businesses is there.
“In the current climate, for some businesses, borrowing is a valuable lifeline. However, for others it can also be a way to expand and diversify into new markets. Obviously this is crucial for individual businesses but also for the UK economy, as their growth will drive the recovery. Our message to entrepreneurs is to speak to your bank manager and see what is available to help your business take that next step.”
Regionally, SMEs in Yorkshire and Humberside would be most likely to invest a business loan in expanding into new markets, with over thirty per cent of respondents looking to do this, if they were to apply for one in the future. Only 12 per cent of businesses in Wales would invest in this way.
For SMEs in the East, East Midlands, South West and Scotland, one of the main areas of focus would be on investing in new equipment with nearly a quarter citing that as the basis of their bsuiness expansion plans.
However, whilst some SMEs may be focused on borrowing to fund growth, the research does highlight that nearly thirty per cent of small business are more nervous about debt since the start of the downturn.
Businesses in the East of England are the most nervous, whilst those in the London are more relaxed. Of those SMEs that have taken the plunge, an overwhelming 75 per cent saw it as a positive experience.
The research, which was carried out by YouGov with over a 1,000 businesses taking part, coincides with a campaign by Barclays Business which highlights that four out of five applications from SMEs are approved. Last year, Barclays Business helped 106,000 businesses start-up – more than in any year since 2003.