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Eight in ten SMEs are optimistic about their business prospects for the year ahead
Business bullishness is on the increase among entrepreneurs

The majority of entrepreneurs are planning for growth in 2013, with half of this group ‘very optimistic’ about the next 12 months, research finds. 

Furthermore, eight in ten are also planning for growth or acquisition in the year ahead while a similar proportion expect to increase headcount in the next year, according to a survey by Smith & Williamson.

Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurs at Smith & Williamson says, ‘These results clearly demonstrate that entrepreneurs are bullish about the future and taking positive steps to develop their business. It is exactly this attitude that helps to explain why they are often described as the engine of our economy.'

Confidence regarding the broader economic outlook is also healthy, with six in ten expecting improvements in the UK economy.

Moreover, 41 per cent of respondents indicate that they would be more prepared to take on borrowing than they were three months ago. However, there are mixed views on whether access to funding is improving.

Rigby adds, 'The view amongst entrepreneurs seems to be that the worst is behind us. If that’s the case, we’ll start to see an increasing appetite for borrowing. The spotlight will then be on the banks and whether they’re able to respond. From what we’ve seen so far from businesses that do want to borrow, there’s still a big hill to climb.'

Rigby points out that there are a number of alternative finance providers emerging, but the funds available are limited. 'A combination of recession and the internet are spawning some great new platforms, such as Funding Circle, Crowdcube and MarketInvoice, but it will take time for these, and others like them, to become established.'  

Survey respondents are split as to whether government policy is supportive of private enterprise, with half of respondents believing that the government is supportive, but the other half disagreeing.

Not all the views from respondents are wholly positive. Tristram Mayhew, founder of fast growing treetop adventure company Go Ape sees ‘consumer confidence and willingness to spend discretionary income’ as a potential barrier to growth.

'The recession has not produced the predicted high unemployment, yet those in work are also  spending less. Highly paid professionals, with strong job security, have joined in with the mass tightening of household spending. Austerity, thrift and make-do are the new, almost cool, social trends,' he adds. 

See also: Owner-managers cautiously optimistic on growth prospects

Related topics: Crowdfunding

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