The latest Small Business Barometer report from small business community hub, Enterprise Nation has shown that many of Britain’s SMEs are feeling optimistic about the future and planning to expand.
Looking Ahead With Confidence
The report, which was based on the results of a poll of 800 SMEs and consultations with numerous focus groups, revealed that 68% of SMEs expect to expand their business in the next six months, with many planning to increase profits via new products and services.
60% were as confident or more confident than previously about the next six months for their business, while a quarter of those who felt less confident placed the blame on Brexit.
81% felt sure their business would still be surviving in a year’s time and 21% are already exporting abroad.
Regional and Sector Expectations
However, this confidence wasn’t felt equally across the country. While North Yorkshire businesses were the most optimistic, with 44% saying business confidence was better than the previous six months and 76% expecting to see growth in the next six months, their counterparts in the East of England were not so optimistic. Only 18% of SMEs polled from this area said they felt more confident than before.
While confidence was lowest in the food and drink, fashion and homewares and businesses services sectors, with only 31% of these SMEs feeling optimistic about the future, 47% of SMEs in the retail sector felt that they were more confident about their business prospects than they had been six months ago, followed by tech firms on 42%.
Exports and Investment
Although around a third of those companies who had been exporting for over six months felt the threat of Brexit had had a negative financial effect, over half of the companies expected to see growth over the next six month currently exporting said they expected to see growth over the next six months.
A third of companies polled in South Yorkshire said they had been exporting for more than six months (31%), the highest in any region, yet in the North West, only 8% had been exporting for any length of time.
28% of respondents said they would be looking for investment over the next six months, but 70% of this group were concerned that Brexit fears may make investors more. However, of those seeking investment, 70% were worried Brexit would make investors more hesitant.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “The smallest firms are unlike any other business community and they remain the most optimistic despite the barrage of negativity they are constantly being exposed to.
“Businesses at this stage can often pivot and adapt more quickly, as well as chase opportunity rather than being locked into contracts that begin to offer dwindling margins.
“While these firms might not have ambitions to become unicorns or gazelles, their contribution to the British economy in terms of revenue and employment cannot be dismissed.”
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