scorecardIndian SMEs confident about their growth in 2017, according to this American Express Survey
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Indian SMEs confident about their growth in 2017, according to this American Express Survey

Indian SMEs confident about their growth in 2017, according to this American Express Survey
IndiaSmallbusiness4 min read
In a day and age when businesses are facing all kinds of uncertainties due to the ups and downs of the market, Indian SMEs remain hopeful of their near future.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in India are highly optimistic about domestic economic growth in the next 12 months and are confident about their business performance in 2017, according to the American Express Global SME Pulse2 2017, a new survey commissioned by American Express and carried out by Oxford Economics.

The survey was carried out among senior executives and decision-makers across 15 countries, with the purpose of understanding the priorities and aspirations of the SME community. Companies surveyed form part of India’s mid-market organizations having revenues of up to $90mn, including SMEs.

According to the survey, Indian SMEs are more positive about the domestic economy over the next 12 months than their Asian counterparts. Indian led with 71% followed by Japan at 62%, China at 54%, and Singapore at 26%. Interestingly, the confidence of Asian countries is substantially higher than the global average of 45%. In terms of global economic outlook, SMEs in India have higher optimism at 65% than Asian counterparts with Japan at 58%, China at 47% and Singapore at 20%.
Healthy optimism about profitability

SMEs in India are confident about their ability to deliver increased revenues and profitability. According to the survey, 76% of the Indian SMEs surveyed expect revenue growth of at least 4% in 2017.

In terms of profitability, Indian SMEs are similarly upbeat with 45% forecasting a profit of 8% per annum by 2020. This is in excess of the global findings which show 27% of SMEs forecasting net profits of 8% over the same period.

While SMEs in India are optimistic about the economy and their own business, they cite domestic policies, uncertain laws and regulations as major concerns over the next year.

Optimistic about recent political changes for businesses’ prospects

SMEs in India see positive light among the government’s recent initiatives and support to boost the sector. 69% of them feel that barriers to entry are coming down and providing business opportunities. As revealed through the survey, 73% of Indian SMEs responded that recent political changes in the country make them optimistic about their businesses’ prospects.
Aim to smoothen business operations through funding options

Amongst various sources of funds, Indian SMEs expressed that existing working capital (at 88%) and bank loans (at 77%) are the most readily available; whereas the funds they actually put to use are bank loans (at 62%) and existing working capital (at 49%). Over the next year, Indian SMEs plan to source funds through public equity markets (at 50%) and bank loans (at 46%). In order to streamline their future business financing options, Indian SMEs ranked flexible lending and repayment options (at 37%) as the most important factor and high interest rates (at 49%) as the biggest pain point when applying for business finance.

Focus on expansion and sales growth to drive financial performance

Indian SMEs are focusing on growth and expansion strategies to improve their financial performance. The survey revealed that 38% of Indian SMEs feel that expansion into new domestic market segments will be a top priority for their business over the next three years. They are also pushing for sales growth with over 35% looking to grow their current market share.
Increasing exports part of the growth push

Exporting is a core pillar of many SMEs’ growth strategies globally and India is no exception. Almost 32% of SMEs surveyed said they recognize expansion into new international markets as a pathway to improved financial performance over the next three years.

Indian SMEs are confident they are ready for export growth, with a sizeable 68% strongly believing their company has the right plans to increase export sales. An overwhelming majority (73%) agree it is easier to access new export markets than it was three years ago.

Also, 37% of Indian SMEs said they will be looking at increasing operational efficiency as another key priority for driving financial performance.
Technological investment is the most important priority area

According to the research, the majority of Indian SMEs understands the growing importance of technology and wants to make investments in the same. 77% of Indian SMEs felt the importance of applying the latest technology in their businesses over the next three years. Another 71% said that they are developing and implementing innovation to business models, products and services and ways of working. About 62% said they are prioritizing on quickly responding to changing business demands. Understanding the need of being on track with technological advancements, 75% of Indian SMEs plan to use more scalable technology, like cloud based solutions in the next three years.

Look beyond the short term

As part of the research, top executives in Indian SMEs were asked about the long-term goals of the business. While profit margin growth (51%) and revenue growth (44%) are identified as the number one and two objectives, well over a quarter (29%) state that both sustaining the business for future generations and building company reputation (28%) are important long-term goals.