Small business that export goods or services are growing faster than those that don’t, according to new research by Barclays.

SMEs that export said their profits increased by 17% on average over the course of the last financial year.

This is 3% higher than the average growth for SMEs (14%) and 6% higher than the average growth for SMEs that did not export (11%).

A quarter of SME exporters reported “substantial” growth of 40% or more.

Respondents said that the limited size of the UK market limited their growth, with 37% of companies saying they hit a ceiling within the first three years of trading.

Steve Childs, head of international at Barclays Business, said:

“Small businesses are seizing opportunities available to them in the UK and internationally. Trading overseas is just one example of how businesses have accelerated their growth and is key to the health of the UK economy in addition. It has never been a more important time for SMEs to get the support they need to trade internationally.”

SMEs continue to grow in confidence, with two thirds of all business surveyed in the report predicting over 20% growth in the next year.

However, SMEs continue to cite cash flow problems as a huge barrier to growth. A recent study by Albion Ventures revealed that 21% of firms say funding is a major concern.

Patrick Reeve, managing partner at Albion Ventures, said:

“Cash flow appears to be a problem of success rather than failure as many businesses find their expansion ambitions become derailed because they cannot maintain a sufficiently healthy cash flow.”

Cash flow ranked as the second biggest productivity concern for SMEs in Albion’s study, behind bureaucracy.

Image by Jason Mrachina