Could the economic fortunes of UK plc appear any more mixed? Anecdotally, there's plenty of talk of 'cautious optimism' - the sense that things are bound to pick up again at some point. But at the same time it's likely that we haven't seen the worst of it yet. There's the small matter of a potential triple-dip recession to get through. And when things turn this rocky, everything from the broadest financial projections to the tiniest hike in suppliers' fees can suddenly spark a major headache.
To understand the conundrum businesses are facing, MT teamed up with Barclaycard Global Business Solutions to quiz 205 executives across a range of sectors on what they see as the key challenges, and how they plan to tackle them.
When asked about the biggest current challenge to their organisation, 31% of respondents cited finding new business. Given that the Bank of England is warning of the imminent triple-dip, this is hardly surprising.
But other concerns were also revealing: 14% cited dealing with rising costs, while 13% mentioned holding on to customers. This suggests that just as businesses should be focusing on going out and getting that crucial new work, they're also having to waste valuable resources and man hours struggling to hold on to what they already have, while fighting to keep a lid on their outgoings.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to your organisation at the moment?
At times like this, what should be a mutually beneficial relationship with suppliers becomes fraught. Of our respondents, 38% expressed concern at having to pass suppliers' price hikes on to clients; 20% said those price hikes were directly causing them problems; and 19% were struggling with suppliers altering payment terms and conditions. 'These three risks have a distinct overlap,' says Douglas Gray, product director, Barclaycard Global Business Solutions. 'The supply chain is a clear cause for concern, yet everyone in that chain benefits from the same thing: payments made in an efficient and controlled manner.' For more results, click here.