Simply Business survey reveals businesses' biggest concerns

Simply Business, the UK's leading insurance brokers for small businesses, canvassed their community of customers to identify the key issues faced by small businesses today and in response provided five top tips to help weather the economic storm.

Simply Business, which insures over 150,000 small business customers, conducted the poll over the last week and discovered the five main concerns listed were winning new business, cash flow, cost of compliance (government bureaucracy/red tape), increased running costs and support/lending from banks. In order to counter these concerns Simply Business has come up with the following top five tips:

• Running costs don't need to give you the runaround - Don't be afraid to renegotiate with existing suppliers for a better deal. New business price comparison websites will give you a strong steer on the best deals in the market place.

• Don't be cursed by compliance costs - Sharpen your expertise in navigating the regulation minefield and use third party organisations for advice. Over compliance will cost you time and money.

• Creativity can improve your cash flow - Don't be afraid to ask for partial payment up front and consider offering a 2% discount incentive for prompt payment.

• New business is out there and it's closer than you think - Apply the following golden rules of marketing: 1) Identify a point of difference that allows you to stand out from your competitors. 2) Be clear on who you are targeting and how best to reach out to them. 3) Be visible both online and offline.

• Don't be afraid of bank loan headlines - Approach your bank manager and financial institutions and be ready to argue the merits of a loan. Don't just assume that the answer will be no.

The survey also found that 73% of respondents do not believe the coalition government understands the needs of small businesses. Many were concerned about the proposed VAT increases for 2011 and automatic pension scheme enrolment, due to come into force in 2012, which, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) fears could cost small businesses £2,550 in administration costs.

A number of respondents also cited issues involved with completing PQQ's (pre-qualification questionnaire) required when tendering for government contracts. Many called for a centralised database, more user friendly IT systems and a simplified tender process if the Government wants to achieve its goal of awarding a quarter of government contracts to SMEs.

Other common complaints were the amount of bureaucracy involved with increasingly demanding compliance regulations.

Jason Stockwood, Simply Business, CEO, said: "Despite signs of an economic recovery in the UK, small businesses are feeling anxious about their short term prospects. Small and micro-businesses are the life-blood of the UK economy and from speaking to them it is clear that some of their biggest concerns are caused by high levels of bureaucracy and a perceived lack of support from financial institutions. This important group needs the wholehearted support from government and banks to ensure that it can continue to provide the much needed business growth and employment opportunities the country is relying on."