Cashflow is the joint biggest area of concern for just over 400 surveyed small business owners, according to Bottomline Technologies’ own research. Getting money in from unpaid invoices is, along with finding and retaining customers, the joint most pressing worry for SMBs.

Getting money in from unpaid invoices is, along with finding and retaining customers, the joint most pressing worry for SMBs.

Other worries include lack of investment, staying innovative, too many overheads, not enough resources and motivating staff. One in five entrepreneurs complained of being permanently tired with the stress of running a small business.

Astonishingly, given the complexity and time spent chasing unpaid invoices, just a quarter of small businesses (26 per cent) use no accounting software at all. And nearly one third (30 per cent) of businesses still use standard spreadsheets instead of the raft of accounting software packages available. Of these, QuickBooks is the most popular (14 per cent), followed by Xero (9 per cent) and Sage (7 per cent).

Cash-strapped SMBs, which spend an hour-and-a-half each day chasing late payments, mostly use bank borrowing for cashflow instead of growing their businesses, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

If they did have the money to invest, 8 out of 10 small businesses (79 per cent) say they would invest in marketing. Indeed, more help with marketing and sales is top of the wish list for small businesses (66 per cent) followed by more investment (52 per cent) and managing cashflow (33 per cent).

Over two thirds of SMBs say acquiring new customers is their top concern, followed by the cost of doing business (52 per cent) and developing an online presence (49 per cent).

Bottomline surveyed 430 small businesses between December 2019 and February 2020. Two thirds of respondents were self-employed, and 103 respondents ran micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

Why it matters

59% of respondents described themselves as start-ups with 13% saying that they were “stressed”. Just 1 in 10 called themselves profitable and growing.

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