Our recent ‘Opportunity in Change’ research report has revealed the top concern faced by SMEs in 2023 is inflation, with 46% of those interviewed citing this as their biggest challenge.

The report, which surveyed over 1,250 SME decision makers across Europe, was released in July and found that, after inflation, fluctuating energy prices (39%) and global recession (27%) made up the top three challenges for those interviewed.

Across Europe, inflation and energy prices have consistently ranked within the top three concerns for SMEs with businesses in Poland (60%) and Spain (50%) seeing inflation as a particular concern.

Our report found a few exacerbating factors, including the macroeconomic environment SMEs are currently contending with, the fallout from the 2021 global pandemic, compounded by factors including supply chain issues, inflation, and the threat of recession. For SMEs in the UK in particular, these factors have been worsened by the lasting effects of Brexit, with 25% of UK businesses still perceiving Brexit as a key challenge, whereas just one in 10 businesses across Europe feeling its impact.

Within the research, we also asked about current levels of optimism amongst SMEs and compared responses with similar research conducted during the pandemic in 2021. Responses in 2023 revealed that there has been an overall decline in optimism amongst European SMEs – falling from 62% in 2021, to just 46% in 2023.

Despite a turbulent couple of years, the research also revealed some signs of resilience, along with a focus on recovery and growth. There was a strong intention by those interviewed to invest in new equipment, with 33% of SMEs planning to invest in computer and IT equipment, and a further 51% will invest in assets or equipment in the next 12 months. The research also revealed a willingness to innovate and develop products and services to meet the changes in market demand.

At Acquis, we believe that positivity, innovation and resilience are key to helping SMEs grow and thrive, and we are excited to support our clients who are looking to capitalise on new opportunities with new products and services to meet the evolving needs of the asset finance market and their customers.

To learn more about the results of our European survey of SMEs and download the full research report, click here.