Entrepreneurial spirit sees small businesses through the downturn

Small Business Week 2009 is upon us, if you hadn't noticed, and BT Business have released the results of this year's Business Pulse report, which they say is the UK’s biggest survey of small and medium-sized businesses.

Out of over 7,000 respondents, three-quarters reckon the economy is set to pick up next year, with an optimistic 35 per cent pencilling in an upturn for January. On the subject of how well equipped small firms have been during the recession, just under half admit advice has been "essential" to advancing their enterprises.

Peers, other business owners and managers, government advisory services and chambers of commerce are cited as the most common sources of such assistance, while 40 per cent of those questioned say better websites and ecommerce have benefitted them.

In terms of finance, 79 per cent of firms reveal they have not secured any external funding, while just 55 per cent of those who have obtained it from banks.

Pub and hotel owners, transport companies and retail and construction operators are generally less hopeful about starting off on the right foot once the upturn begins than their counterparts in the technology, IT, telecoms and media sectors.

Bill Murphy, the managing director of BT Business, points out that many small firms are using business social networking to "get new customers through the door".

"There are clear signs that businesses have innovated and adapted for the better to emerge stronger for the future," he says. "Small businesses are in no doubt that the entrepreneurial spirit of the UK will get us through."

Small Business Week 2009 is supported by BT Business, in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce, Business Link, the ACCA, NatWest, Growing Business and everywoman.