Three in five UK SMEs believe they would be successful if they applied for a bank loan to fund their investment plans, according to research by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks.
The research, which surveyed more than 850 SMEs across the UK, suggests investment in new equipment, premises and staff are now top of SMEs priority lists.
While some caution still remains, 37% of businesses are more likely to invest in growth opportunities than they were a year ago, pointing to increased confidence in themselves and the economy. Nearly half (45%) of SMEs feel there are more opportunities for them to grow now than the same time last year.
The feeling among SMEs that economic conditions have improved is mirrored in the latest official statistics, which show UK GDP was 3.1% higher for the second quarter of this year compared to the same quarter in 2013.
The survey also revealed that 35% of SMEs had reduced levels of debt due to the recession. Nearly two in three businesses (64%) are looking for lenders to make it easier to borrow back the money they had repaid.
Paul Shephard (pictured), director for business and private banking at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, said the survey suggested SMEs are increasingly confident the economy is moving in the right direction.
“At the moment, UK businesses are viewing the economy with increasing levels of confidence and preparing themselves for the opportunities which come about as a result. To take advantage of the improving conditions, many businesses are innovating, investing in new staff, expanding or purchasing their own premises and entering new markets.
“We believe many businesses have the appetite to invest but some remain uncertain as to whether their bank will support them, or how they might go about securing additional funding. The starting point is a conversation with someone who understands you and the potential of your business and the sector in which you are operating.”