Though it might not seem like now is a good time for small businesses - what with the potential impact of Brexit and wider economic worries on the UK’s High Streets - confidence among those running SMEs is running at a high, according to new data. Could it be that with a backdrop of lower inflation, progress on talks to leave the EU and a largely positive Spring Statement that this is the perfect time to grow a small business?
According to the latest Small Business Index (SBI) produced by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), seven in ten firms firmly expect their performance to either improve (32 per cent) or at least remain consistent (40 per cent) over the next three months. Only 27 per cent say the next quarter could be difficult.
This is the first time that the SBI, a measure of total confidence among small businesses, has read such a high value for a number of years, the group says.
Mike Ferry, the FSB’s National chairman, said that after 2017 was “dogged” by increasing prices and political uncertainty that many small business owners were buoyed by improve economic forecasts for the UK. The Government’s tackling of the late payment crisis - which could see £14 billion funneled back into SMEs - as well as reforming business rates was also good news.
“Positive commitments from the Chancellor, along with agreement on a Brexit transition period and falling inflation, should make it easier for small business to plan, invest and grow in the months ahead,” he added.
Finding new investment or ownership opportunities at a time when the SME market is so buoyant is, it seems, even easier in this landscape.
Gearing for growth
Bringing on new personnel is also on the agenda for most small eneterprises, according to a similar survey conducted by Flexspace this month, which gathered the opinions of 150 SME owners in the UK.
It found that 80 per cent of small business owners are predicting either moderate or “substantial” growth in 2018, thanks to their confidence in the UK economy. Of those surveyed, 43 per cent added that they expected to expand their operations by adding new employees, with 32 per cent saying they hoped to recruit at least four new members of staff.
Lee Maytum, Flexspace’s managing director, said that this alone was “a sign of significant growth” for small businesses going forward, and reflected the fact that in the modern marketplace there was far more room for small enterprises to find success and grow accordingly.
He added that the positive outlook that SMEs seem to have is evidence that they were “targeting new opportunities”.
Indeed, a final piece of research undertaken by the Octopus group, which suggests that 3,000 new jobs are created by smaller firms every day in the UK.
In fact, of all the jobs created in the country last year, Octopus estimates that one in five was created by high growth small firms, which contributed some £62 billion to the national economy between them.
With this in mind, now seems like the perfect time to target smaller companies in need of new leadership that could have the potential to grow enormously. Finding the best opportunities can be as simple as finding a trusted broker to put you in touch with the SMEs that need the expertise of a new owner to unlock their full potential.