Global Business Monitor

2019 Global Business Monitor reveals insights from SMEs around the world

This year’s research surveyed 2,300 small and medium-sized businesses across 13 countries/regions: Canada, USA, Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The report presents the opinions of owners and senior decision-makers of SMEs across the manufacturing, construction, wholesale, transport, and services sectors.

The Global Business Monitor reports business sentiment on topics including confidence, sales expectations, the economy, access to finance and business challenges, including the causes of cash flow problems.

Download the Hong Kong report  to discover where SMEs see their best opportunities and challenges for the coming year.

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Key findings

  • Overall SME confidence in local markets has fallen from 54% in 2017 to 48% in 2019
  • One in three SMEs struggle with cashflow
  • Over two-fifths of SMEs are finding it difficult to collect payment from customers on time
  • Hong Kong SMEs have to wait average 34 days to receive payment from customers, the second longest among surveyed countries/regions
  • The greatest challenge facing SMEs in Hong Kong is rising overheads/ costs (36%), followed by cashflow (30%)
  • Almost a third (32%) Hong Kong SMEs say they would consider factoring as a potential source of finance for their business
 

It’s clear that SMEs around the world are becoming accustomed to global uncertainty and many are taking matters into their hands, investing in capability and expansion. DAVID POSTINGS, GLOBAL CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BIBBY FINANCIAL SERVICES

Global Business Monitor

SME business sentiment

The report found that while business confidence has taken a hit, down five points to 63.66 on the Confidence Index, business ambition remains robust in the face of a fickle global economy. This seeming paradox may be explained by the relatively higher significance of domestic trade compared with global trade.


Global Business Monitor

Business challenges

SMEs around the world are struggling to access the cash they need to boost their growth, with one in three citing cash flow management as their greatest challenge. Late payment from slow paying customers was identified as one of the chief causes of cash flow problems by over two-fifths of SMEs.


export

Global trade

Domestic trade accounts for 86% of SMEs. When it comes to trading overseas, 28% of businesses are exporting, while 20% are importing. Singapore has the highest proportion of SMEs that import (41%), while Hong Kong has the highest proportion of SMEs that export (48%).


Access to finance for SMEs

Access to finance for SMEs

When it comes to small business finance, one in three of the surveyed businesses said SME access to finance is excellent/good. Overall, around a third of SMEs are currently using external finance for their business and cash flow planning. Meanwhile, one in five SMEs have been rejected for external finance.


Payment practices

Payment practices

The research reveals that collecting money from customers remains a challenge for many SMEs wanting to improve cash flow. Thirty-one per cent of SMEs have experienced a bad debt in 2019, only a slight improvement on the 35% in 2017. Of those who have suffered a bad debt this year, 44% said it has affected their growth and profit margin.

Download the report

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