Business retention was the biggest worry for one in three UK SMEs (33%) in Q1 2016, according to Hitachi Capital’s British Business Barometer.

Last year 25% of SMEs identified business retention as a source of worry, while six months ago this figure stood at 23%.

30% of the 1,021 SMEs surveyed were concerned about managing cash flow, 29% about red tape, 26% bout compliance and regulation and 25% about market volatility.

By sector

The impact of extreme weather on their business was the biggest concern for SMEs in the agriculture sector (40%), and is significantly higher than the same period a year ago (29%). A further 36% worry about red tape, an increase of 6% on six months ago (30% in Q3 2015).

Economic volatility was the top concern in the construction sector (21%), and was significantly higher when compared with 12 months ago (15%). Red tape (33%) and concerns around business retention were also on the increase (27%, compared with 16% in both Q1 and Q3 2015).

Emerging from recent redundancies in the UK steel industry, managing cash flow was still the biggest concern in the sector (36%). Employee skill gaps and shortages was also still a major concern for the sector (27%), having increased significantly from 12 and 6 months ago (13% Q1 2015, 12% Q3 2015).