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Business Matters: Better access to finance needed for SMEs

Plan ahead when your business is healthy, says Close Invoice Finance sales director David Butler
MORE than half of Britain's small businesses lack confidence in the economic prospects of the country, according to a new survey issued last month. Some 62% of the managing directors and financial directors contacted by the researchers believe general economic conditions will get worse during the next 12 months and 45% think the economic conditions for their business will also worsen.

While the data revealed concern about our economic future, when questioned about the impact of Gordon Brown's policies, 56% of respondents thought his policies had been fairly good for the British economy as a whole since 1997.

The poll also highlighted the belief that government has work to do in terms of improving access for finance for SMEs. While there has been a concerted effort to make funding more available to young and growing businesses, 57% of respondents believe this has not been successful.

It also appears that the government's streamlining of its £2.6billion business support programme, the downsizing of the Small Business Service, and the Tory review of business support schemes all point to a lack of understanding of what businesses really need in order to
succeed.

Reading between the lines, it is clear that the emphasis on business growth and survival still lies squarely at the feet of the large majority of owner managers. The onus is on them, with limited support available, to make every effort to keep operations lean and fit.

One of the key steps to achieving this has to be a well set out business plan with a sensible forecast of cashflow.

It always amazes me how many people are prepared to fudge their figures to fool themselves and hide from financial issues.

The key to success has to be to plan ahead when the business is healthy.

Britain's SMEs may lack confidence in future economic prospects, but there are plenty of you who can be lean and fit enough to survive whatever the future may hold - you just have to lay down the groundwork now.
1 April 2007

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