Small businesses look forward to purple patch

The UK’s smallest companies are the most optimistic about prospects over the next few months, according to a study.


The UK’s smallest companies are the most optimistic about prospects over the next few months, according to a study.

The UK’s smallest companies are the most optimistic about prospects over the next few months, according to a study.

A majority of companies expect their sector to grow in the coming quarter, according to the Business Barometer survey by office provider Business Environment, with some 58 per cent either ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ in the UK economy’s prospects over the first three months of 2013.

However, the study shows that the smaller the firm, the more positive about their business future, with 68.2 per cent of companies between one and nine employees either ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ about the longevity of their firm.

This compares to 66.3 per cent of firms with between 10 and 49 employees, 64.8 per cent of companies between 50 and 99 employees, and 58.9 per cent between 100 and 249 employees. For firms with more than 250 employees, the figure is just 54.5 per cent.

Nearly a third (32.7 per cent) of all 300 respondents say they expect their business to expand.



The survey comes after a final quarter of 2012 in which businesses reported stability. When asked what their turnover was compared to the preceding quarter, more than half of respondents (61.7 per cent) said that it remained the same.

Similarly, when asked whether the number of employees in their firm had changed over the past quarter, the most frequent reply was that headcounts had remained constant, with 47.7 per cent choosing this option).



David Saul, managing director of Business Environment says, ‘One of the main messages to come from the report was that while few companies are thriving, a large amount are on an even keel. Nearly half a decade after the beginning of the financial crisis, the initial fallout is now over and businesses are beginning to adjust to a long period of austerity and reduced consumer demand.

‘We see this reflected in much of the survey’s findings. Companies are not growing at a fast rate, but they remain confident about their long-term prospects. Companies complain about bank lending, but few expect the economy to tank in 2013.’



Saul adds that the issue for businesses is whether to become reconciled to a period of stagnation, or whether to try to think their way out of it by innovating, expanding into new markets, or exporting to new territories.



Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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