Here's what your peers are doing

Here's what your peers are doing

Fewer small businesses are now borrowing money according to The British Business Bank’s second annual Nations and Regions Tracker, published yesterday (23 November 2022).

Does that make borrowing a bad idea in 2023? Let's have a closer look at the numbers.

38% of smaller businesses were using external finance in the second quarter of 2022, down from 45% a year earlier, driven mainly by repayment of Bounce Back Loans and CBILS.

Overdrafts, loans, asset finance and credit cards remain the most widely used products, with overdrafts in particular seeing a resurgence. The deteriorating economic picture and increase in input costs is, unsurprisingly, creating the need for more working capital for many.

Asset finance is the most used ‘alternative’ finance product (and, incidentally, the best way of acquiring vehicles and equipment).

The way small businesses are financing themselves is also becoming more varied. The proportion of businesses now only using non-government-backed loans has dropped 15 percentage points to 22%. Indeed, the proportion of businesses using a blend of government-backed loans, grants and traditional finance has increased from 21% to 23%. 

The report also gives insight into the appetite to apply for finance, and the likelihood of being turned down.

Nationally, nearly a quarter (22%) of businesses in need of finance did not apply in 2020-21 and 11% of applications were declined.

The report found that businesses in the most deprived areas of the UK* are more open to using finance and report higher levels of ambition for growth. Nearly half (49%) of businesses in the most deprived areas have a long-term ambition to be a significantly larger business, compared to 40% elsewhere. They are also more willing to use external finance to grow (36% vs.33%). 

So, what does this all mean for you?

There are several useful take-outs from this data for business owners planning their approach to 2023.

  • Debt is not something to be taken on lightly, but equally, it is not something to be afraid of. Despite all the gloom, there are growth opportunities in the economy and there are some very early indicators that inflation might be nearing its peak. Carefully considered borrowing to support growth in 2023 could be the right strategy.
  • Not applying for the finance you need for fear of being turned down is the wrong approach. A conversation with a good broker may open the way to loan products, loan schemes and providers that you weren't previously aware of, including government funded loan schemes and regional investment funds.
  • 11% of loan applications being declined in 2020-21 means that 89% were accepted. The odds are in your favour for any properly presented business case.
  • Regional variations in success rates are likely to be driven by differences in property prices (i.e. security), business sector concentrations and the general distribution of wealth influencing credit scores and borrower contributions. Again, a good broker can help you navigate these challenges if you live in one of these areas.
  • More businesses are using a mix of government-backed funding, grants and non-government backed loans to meet their overall requirements. A funding strategy or roadmap is a useful part of your business plan and is something that our funding experts can advise on.

If there is anything in this update that affects you, we will be pleased to put you in touch with one of our regional funding experts for advice.


A Guest blog from our friends at Productivity Finance