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One third of UK small firms have grown since 2013

Research from software company Citrix suggests that a third of small businesses in the UK ("about 1.67m firms") have recruited staff since 2013, as the economic recovery has gathered strength.

The 2014 Scale-Up Report by angel investor Sherry Coutu identified a "scale-up gap" in the UK, with many start-ups failing to achieve any significant growth. But Citrix's research would support the view that small UK firms are getting better at scaling up, with about 426,000 small businesses (8%) having grown by 50% or more since 2013.

'Scale-up' businesses are defined as having ten or more employees, while recording average annual growth in revenue or employees of at least 20% over three consecutive years. Citrix found that 10% of British businesses of this size have achieved average annual growth of more than 20% over the past two years.

Of the 220,345 UK SMEs that have ten or more employees, according to Citrix, 23,000 are high-growth companies.

Technology remains a big driver of growth. Those SMEs that grew by 50% or more in the last two years are four times more likely to have made significant investments in technology in 2014 than they did in 2013, and more than those businesses that remained the same size or shrunk.

The research reveals a strong correlation between technology investment and high-growth businesses. Technology is helping British SMEs to overcome barriers to scaling up, which include finding skills and talent, sourcing suitable business locations and expanding into new markets.

Andrew Millard, Senior Director of International Marketing at Citrix, said: 

"This study illustrates the vibrancy within the SME sector over the past two years. Technology is clearly playing an important role in SMEs overcoming some of the traditional barriers to growth, and digital competency is becoming the new currency of growth. Each day we hear how our customers are using technology to reinvent not only the way they work, but the markets in which they operate."

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