Are you feeling confident about your business and what the future holds for it? If so, you are not alone in feeling this way because research shows that business confidence in the UK is at its highest point since the annual global measure of confidence for SMEs, the Sage Business Index, began in 2011.
It’s great to see that UK businesses are now increasingly confident about their own prospects, the UK economy and the global economy. Business owners here are even more optimistic about the future than all of the Eurozone countries, including France, Portugal, Spain and even Germany.
The research also shows that the priority for UK businesses is focusing on winning new customers rather than on bureaucracy and dealing with red tape. 28% of respondents said their core business priority is winning new customers, while 21% say winning new customers is the main challenge for growing businesses. 30% cite managing cashflow as the biggest challenge.
A quarter of the businesses surveyed feel that too much bureaucracy is the biggest challenge to conducting business in the UK and just over half reckon that cutting down on this bureaucracy would be one of the most important things the government could do to help business confidence. 45% of businesses are also calling for a cut in business taxes.
UK businesses are also among the most risk-averse, with two-fifths (42%) of them describing themselves as risk-taking, but 39% saying they are risk-averse (32% globally). The biggest reason why the businesses surveyed tend not to take risks is that they say they don’t like leaving things to chance (36%).
It also seems that UK businesses like to seek more support for small businesses from government and banks than the average business in other countries. More than two-fifths (43%) of small and medium-sized UK businesses believe that start-ups and small businesses do the most to support themselves. Over half (54%) believe the government should in fact be doing the most and a quarter (26%) think that the banks should be (compared to 18% who think this globally).
12% of UK businesses feel that the biggest challenge to doing business in the UK is access to capital and funding, but 75% agree that banks aren’t doing enough to make capital available to small businesses (75%) and 73% feel that that the government needs to put more pressure on banks to lend to small businesses.
However they are unconvinced about alternative funding sources or sharing business assets. Despite the frustration with the perceived lack of support for small business, only 9% (compared with 17% globally) strongly agree that small businesses need to look at alternative funding sources.
Furthermore, of all markets, small and medium-sized UK businesses are least positive about peer-to-peer funding (just 30% have a positive impression). UK businesses are similarly cool towards sharing business assets: 15% would be prepared to share assets if it made financial sense, but 23% would never share assets and 16% would only consider it if they knew they could get something out of the deal.
It wasn’t just good news for the UK though. Confidence was up across all of the countries in the global survey. How optimistic is your business about the coming year? Let us know in the comments section.