ALMOST three quarters (72 per cent) of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) think the UK is a great place to start a business, research suggests.
This is despite the fact that many see late payments, uncertainty around Brexit and a fluctuating pound as potentially detrimental to their growth.
The survey of 505 managers, commissioned by global business analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet and the Small Business Research Centre, found 54 per cent of SMEs are confident about their future success.
However, almost a third (32 per cent) said Brexit has affected their confidence negatively, according to the study released on Wednesday.
A third (35 per cent) have cancelled or postponed expansion plans as a direct result of the Brexit vote, while 34 per cent have rewritten their business plan in response to the ongoing economic and political uncertainty.
Meanwhile, over a quarter (26 per cent) of SMEs highlighted timely payments as the most critical factor for financial success.
The respondents indicated that at any one time they are owed an average of £63,881 in late payments, with 11 per cent saying they are owed between £100,000 and £250,000.
The consequences of late payments include cash flow difficulties (35 per cent), delayed payments to suppliers (29 per cent) and reduced profit performance (24 per cent).
Some respondents said they have dipped into their personal savings to cover the shortfall.
Half (51 per cent) of SMEs said late payments are more of a problem than three years ago, with 58 per cent saying the issue is putting their business at risk of failure.
Despite the challenges, the study suggests there is a positive outlook among small businesses.
Most SMEs still have a clear business strategy prepared (70 per cent) and three quarters (75 per cent) are confident they can achieve financial growth in the next five years.
“It was reassuring that the majority of respondents still think Britain is a great place to start a small business, and most believe they’ll enjoy success in the coming years,” said Edward Thorne, UK managing director of Dun & Bradstreet, a credit, compliance and marketing solutions firm.
“There’s no doubt there will be bumps along the road, but this is positive news for the overall health of the UK business environment.”