More than half of small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are planning only six to 12 months ahead, the latest research has revealed.

According to the latest data from energy supplier npower, as part of its An Eye to the Future report containing more than 500 responses UK-based SMEs, 57% of small firms are planning only up to a year ahead due to the uncertain economic climate, as well as income holding back future plans. In addition, it was revealed that 55% of businesses would like to plan further in advance.

Phil Scholes, SME markets director at npower, said: “We commissioned this research to better understand the challenges SMEs are facing when it comes to planning for their businesses’ future. It is encouraging to see many SMEs wish they could plan further ahead. 

“While the stability of the economy, which many SMEs cite as a key barrier to forward planning, is not something businesses can control, there are some steps they can take to help.  For example, businesses may look to fix the cost of overheads where they can, such as choosing a fixed energy tariff, to help provide the certainty and confidence to plan ahead.”

The report also looked at attitudes toward energy planning, revealing almost 60% of businesses take a planned approach to energy consumption, but a quarter still do not implement any form of energy efficiency measures.

Nearly half (41%) of SME respondents also saw energy efficiency as a key business priority, and 43% have examined the energy marketplace and switched energy suppliers at least twice.

Scholes added: “The energy picture formed by the SMEs’ responses demonstrates that, while some companies have embraced a strategy to minimise energy cost risk, as well as undertaking measures to reduce energy consumption levels and cost, many others are still not taking advantage of the solutions on offer. Addressing energy costs by switching suppliers, fixing price and embracing energy efficiency, will improve the bottom line and help small businesses plan confidently for the future.”