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Navigating Buy or Lease Decisions for SMEs

1.0 Introduction to Buy or Lease Options

Every Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) faces the crucial decision of whether to buy or lease assets. This choice affects its financial health and ability to grow and adapt in a changing market.

1.1. Buy or Lease: The Pros and Cons

Buying an asset, like machinery or office space, means the business owns it outright after the initial purchase. This can boost the company’s worth and eliminates recurring payments. However, it requires a significant initial investment. There’s the risk of the asset becoming outdated, especially in fast-changing industries.

On the other hand, leasing offers flexibility. SMEs can access the latest equipment or prime locations without the initial cost. Plus, many lease contracts include upgrade options, ensuring businesses stay current. But over time, leasing can become more expensive than buying outright.

1.2. Beyond the Price Tag: What’s at Stake for SMEs?

The decision to buy or lease isn’t just about money and strategy. SMEs often operate with tighter budgets than large corporations. This means each expenditure needs to offer value for the future.

Choosing to buy is a bold statement about a business’s long-term vision and stability. It can strengthen relationships with stakeholders and even help secure future financing.

On the other hand, leasing provides the agility SMEs often need. In unpredictable markets, leasing means they can adapt more easily without being tied down by older, purchased assets.

Ultimately, buying or leasing reflects an SME’s current position, future goals, and strategy for getting there.

2.0 Navigating Buy or Lease Choices

For SMEs, decisions like Buy or Lease are more complex than they might appear. These choices, straightforward for larger companies, can pose challenges for SMEs.

2.1. Big Buys, Big Impacts

When SMEs consider large purchases, they’re not just spending money. These buys can shape their future. While buying requires a significant upfront payment, which might strain finances, it can free up cash in the long run. On the flip side, the money spent on buying could be invested in other growth areas, like marketing or new markets.

2.2. The Power of Agility

SMEs thrive on adaptability. They can quickly pivot and adjust to market changes. That’s where leasing shines. With leasing, businesses can easily switch or upgrade equipment based on needs. This gives them an edge in ever-changing markets.

2.3. Predicting the Unpredictable

All businesses aim for growth, but predicting it, especially for SMEs, is tricky. If a company sees steady growth on the horizon, buying assets with fixed costs might be the way to go. But leasing provides the flexibility they might need if the future looks uncertain.

Ultimately, the Buy or Lease decision isn’t just about today’s budget. It’s about predicting the future and positioning the business to thrive, no matter what comes next.

3.0 Unpacking the Buy or Lease Decision

“Buy or Lease” isn’t simply about upfront costs for SMEs. It’s a multi-layered decision with varied implications. Exploring these layers can shed light on this pivotal choice.

3.1. Lessons from the Field: Successes and Stumbles

Consider MasonTech, a budding tech firm. They chose to purchase office equipment, which at first seemed wise. But as tech raced forward, they were stuck with dated gear, hampering their edge.

On the flip side, GreenLeaf, an eco-conscious fashion brand, leased their machines. But when fashion trends shifted, they were trapped in their lease terms, limiting their adaptability.

These stories highlight a truth: Buy or Lease isn’t a universal answer. It’s shaped by an SME’s unique circumstances and goals.

3.2. The Unseen Costs: Buy vs Lease.

While buying and leasing may seem clear-cut in costs, there’s more beneath the surface:


Beyond the initial price, other costs emerge:

  •  Ongoing maintenance and repairs.
  •  The risk of assets becoming outdated quickly.
  •  Potential missed investment opportunities with tied-up capital.


While leasing can offer adaptability, it has hidden expenses:

  •  Fees for breaking a lease prematurely.
  •  Over time, lease costs can eclipse the asset’s purchase value.
  •  Limited control over the leased items, which can affect operations.

3.3. Navigating Market Trends

Market trends, ever-shifting, are central to this decision. A volatile market might make purchased assets a liability, whereas a thriving one might drive up leasing costs. Gauging these market shifts determines whether the buying stability or the leasing flexibility fits the strategy.

In essence, the Buy or Lease choice is intricate. It involves balancing current needs, finances, and future projections for SMEs. This is a decision that requires thorough thought.

4.0 Weighing the Buy or Lease Options

The “Buy or Lease” choice is a cornerstone in SME finance. To navigate this decision, it’s vital to consider challenges and potential solutions. Let’s delve into the pros of both approaches.

4.1. Why Leasing Appeals to SMEs

1. Flexibility:

Leasing allows businesses to adapt quickly. They can switch equipment based on current trends or needs without the cost burden of ownership.

2. Financial Agility:

Leasing lets SMEs keep funds for other opportunities or unexpected expenses.

3. Staying Updated:

In industries where tech becomes outdated, leasing ensures SMEs remain cutting-edge without buying new equipment.

4.2. The Upsides of Buying Assets

1. Savings Over Time:

Though buying has a higher initial cost, it often proves cheaper in the long haul than leasing.

2. Full Control:

Ownership provides SMEs total control over how they use, tweak, or maintain their assets. This ensures alignment with business goals.

3. Tax Perks:

Buying can lead to tax benefits, such as deductions from asset depreciation. Some places even offer extra tax incentives for SMEs that purchase.

Both options, buying and leasing, offer distinct advantages for SMEs. The challenge lies in matching these benefits to the business’s needs and financial situation. SMEs can make choices that enhance their effectiveness and financial stability.

5.0 Voices from the Field: ‘Buy or Lease’ Stories

The ‘Buy or Lease’ decision is pivotal for many SMEs. Learning from those who’ve been there offers invaluable insights. Here’s a glimpse into real-world choices and outcomes.

5.1. Leasing Wins from SMEs

Terranova Tech: “Being a tech startup, staying current was crucial. Leasing lets us use the latest equipment without straining our budget. This flexibility was a game-changer during our early days.”

Green Thumb Landscaping: “Tools can quickly become outdated in landscaping. Leasing allowed us to upgrade easily, matching our commitment to efficiency and sustainability.”

5.2. Buying Successes from Businesses

Mellow Brews Café: “Owning our equipment brought stability. With no monthly lease bills, we saved enough over time to open a second branch.”

Bridgeford Legal Services: “Owning our office was more than just a purchase; it was a statement. It solidified our brand and built trust within our community.”

5.3. Expert Takes: What Financial Advisors Say

Samantha Reynolds, CFA: “‘Buy or Lease’ is a tailored decision. While leasing can be a lifeline for startups, others might find the long-term benefits of buying more aligned with their goals.”

Patrick O’Neil, Financial Consultant: “Each SME is unique. Evaluating financial health, growth plans, and industry needs is essential. What’s right for one might not suit another.”

By listening to these firsthand experiences, SMEs can better navigate their ‘Buy or Lease’ journey.

6.0 The ‘Buy or Lease’ Toolkit for SMEs

The ‘Buy or Lease’ decision is pivotal for many SMEs. We provide resources and tools to help navigate this critical choice with confidence.

6.1. In-depth Guide: Weighing Your Options

Choosing between buying or leasing requires careful consideration. Our guide offers:

  • Financial Modelling: Designed for SMEs, it offers a breakdown of costs for both buying and leasing.
  • Industry Benchmarking: See trends within your sector to inform your decision.
  • Risk Analysis: Understand and strategise against potential risks associated with each choice.

6.2. Custom Tools for Clear Decision-making

myCFOng offers exclusive tools tailored for SMEs:

  • Lease-Buy Calculator: Get a clear cost comparison between leasing and buying.
  • Scenario Planner: Predict how market changes might impact your choice.
  • Asset Lifecycle Tracker: If considering buying, this tool gives insights into asset longevity and value over time.

6.3. Partnering with Top Financial Institutions

We connect you with financial institutions for seamless decision execution:

With our comprehensive toolkit, ‘Buy or Lease’ becomes less of a puzzle and more of an opportunity for SMEs to drive their business forward.

7.0 Navigating Business Changes: ‘Buy or Lease’ Decisions

Business environments are ever-evolving. SMEs must adapt, especially when deciding whether to buy or lease. Here’s how SMEs can stay nimble and make informed choices in a shifting landscape.

7.1. Adapting to Market Shifts

Predictive Analysis: Use data to forecast market trends. This can guide proactive ‘Buy or Lease’ decisions, reducing future challenges.

Scenario Planning: Regularly imagine different business futures. This helps SMEs prepare for varied outcomes in their buying or leasing decisions.

Feedback Mechanisms: Regular stakeholder input can refine the ‘Buy or Lease’ process.

7.2. Regularly Revisiting Financial Choices

Quarterly Check-ins: Regular reviews help determine whether bought or leased assets match business goals.

Consult Financial Experts: Their fresh insights can keep SMEs updated on the latest industry shifts and inform the ‘Buy vs Lease’ debate.

Use Financial Software: Modern tools offer instant financial insights, crucial for evaluating the pros and cons of buying or leasing.

7.3. Learning from Other SMEs

Industry Forums: Joining these can offer valuable insights from peers on ‘Buy or Lease’ experiences.

Mentorships: Connect with industry experts for guidance on best practices around the ‘Buy or Lease’ decision.

Workshops: Organise sessions on financial decision-making to broaden knowledge and discover new strategies.

While ‘Buy or Lease’ decisions can be complex, SMEs can thrive by staying adaptable, revisiting choices, and learning from others. This ensures they navigate the challenges with clarity and confidence.

8.0 Wrapping Up: Navigating ‘Buy or Lease’

Choosing between buying or leasing is a pivotal decision that influences immediate finances and long-term strategies. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, informed planning can turn this challenge into an opportunity.

8.1. Making Smart Choices

  • Knowledge is Power: Understand the details of buying and leasing to craft strategies specific to your business needs.
  • Stay Flexible: The business realm is constantly changing. Regularly review decisions to ensure alignment with current goals and market realities.
  • Assess Risks: Navigate the ‘Buy or Lease’ choice by understanding and managing associated risks.

8.2. The Value of Continuous Learning

  • Keep Learning: Stay informed about market changes, tech trends, and financial tools that might impact your decision.
  • Connect with Others: Engage with industry peers, attend seminars, and join forums to gain diverse insights.
  • Seek Expertise: Consulting financial and industry experts can clarify the ‘Buy vs Lease’ conundrum.

Essentially, the ‘Buy or Lease’ choice is crucial for SMEs. With the right resources and a proactive approach, businesses can make decisions that set them on a path to success. This ensures adaptability and resilience in an ever-changing market.


Q: What should SMEs consider when choosing to buy or lease?

A: Key considerations include:

  1. Financial Health: Can the business afford upfront costs, or is a periodic payment system more suitable?
  2. Duration of Need: Buying is long-term, while leasing offers short-term flexibility.
  3. Asset Value: Consider how quickly the asset might lose value.
  4. Initial Costs: Buying usually needs more upfront cash than leasing.
  5. Maintenance: Owning often means handling repairs, while leasing might shift this duty to the provider.
  6. Tax Benefits: Each option has its tax implications.

Q: What’s the leasing process for businesses?

A: The leasing process typically follows these steps:

  1. Determine Needs: Decide on the assets you need.
  2. Research Options: Look for leasing companies and compare their offers.
  3. Apply & Get Approval: Fill out an application and finalise terms upon approval.
  4. Sign Agreement: Understand and agree to the terms.
  5. Use the Asset: Use the leased asset.
  6. End of Lease: Renew, buy, or return the asset at the end of its term.

Q: Are there tax advantages to leasing for SMEs?

A: Yes, potential benefits include:

  1. Deductible Payments: Lease payments can often be deducted from taxes.
  2. Financial Statement Benefits: Leased assets might not appear as debt. This improves financial metrics.
  3. VAT Reclaims: Some places allow VAT claims on leased items.

Q: What are the long-term effects of buying assets for SMEs?

A: When SMEs buy assets, they should be aware of the following:

  1. Tied-up Capital: Money spent on assets can limit available cash.
  2. Decreasing Value: Assets often lose value over time.
  3. Maintenance Costs: Owners usually handle repairs and upkeep.
  4. Tax Deductions: Depreciation might offer tax breaks.
  5. Resale Potential: Selling the asset later could return some of the initial cost.

Q: How can SMEs adjust their decisions based on market changes?

A: To adapt to market shifts:

  1. Review Finances: Check financial health regularly.
  2. Monitor Market Trends: Stay informed about industry changes.
  3. Seek Expert Advice: Talk to financial professionals and peers.
  4. Ensure Contract Flexibility: Agreements that allow changes can be beneficial.

About the Author

Ajibola Jinadu is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). He is also a Fellow and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University, UK.

His professional experience includes an 8-year stint with Deloitte and 7 years as a CFO. He has collaborated with executive management to implement financial strategies. This helped in increasing the company’s flexibility and responsiveness to market changes.

Ajibola regularly contributes various business and finance publications on his website, myCFOng. He primarily writes about small business management and financial strategies. He is also a sought-after speaker at industry conferences. Ajibola often discusses agility and flexibility in small businesses’ financial planning.


Welcome to myCFOng, your premier destination for small business finance insights. Our team comprises proven experts in small business finance. Our contributors bring years of practical experience and theoretical knowledge.

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This article intends to provide general information and does not constitute financial advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.

The content in this article is not a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified professional or your independent financial advisor. This is for any questions regarding your financial situation or specific financial issues.

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