In 2015 BMG Research was commissioned by the British Business Bank to conduct the 2015 Business Finance Survey. Two reports based on this survey were published on last week.

The survey explores the state of the UK business finance market, and the stages that businesses go through in order to obtain finance. The survey builds upon previous studies, also conducted by BMG, in 2012 and 2014.

BMG completed 1,608 interviews with SMEs (defined as businesses having 0 to 249 employees) and 300 mid-caps (defined as businesses with £25m-£500m turnover) during October and November 2015.

60% of SMEs and 85% of mid-caps had used any form of external finance in the last three years. 18% of SMEs and 47% of mid-caps had applied for external finance in the last 12 months. Of these, 71% of SMEs and 89% of mid-caps were successful in getting all the finance they needed from the first source they approached.

Two important areas of the survey, types of finance used and the barriers to exporting are explained in further detail below…

Types of finance used

When looking at the difference between SMEs and mid-caps, the research found mid-caps use a variety of financial products; with lease/hire products (61%), credit cards (53%) and bank overdrafts (42%) being the most widely used.

In contrast, SMEs are most likely to use credit cards (28%), bank overdrafts (28%) and loans from friends / colleagues (23%).

Readers can interrogate the data for themselves by toggling with the drop-down menu in the chart below.

Barriers to exporting

Another interesting finding concerned the barriers faced to exporting.  Businesses that are already exporters, and non-exporters that have goods or services that could be exported, were asked what prevented them increasing their level of exports.

Overseas regulations and the fear of not getting paid appear to be the main barriers for both exporters and potential exporters.

Again readers can interrogate the data for themselves by toggling with the drop-down menu in the chart below.

Using this research to understand business finance needs enables The British Business Bank to design its programmes. The bank has used the findings from the 2015 Business Finance Survey extensively within its Small Business Finance Markets Report 2015/16, which can be found here.

For more information about this research, quotes, or to arrange an interview, please contact Steve Lomax, Research Director email

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