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Bleak Midwinter: Chilly 2019 Economic Climate Leads SME Business Leaders to Forgo Christmas Bonuses

Sales and Hiring Outlook for 2020 is Rosier  –Vistage Survey 

  • Almost half (46%) of UK small business leaders confirmed that economic conditions have worsened in 2019
  • 40% of small businesses expect overall conditions to be worse still in the next 12 months
  • A third (36%) of small business leaders will not be giving bonuses this year
  • At company level, two-thirds (64%) of bosses expect their sales revenue will increase in 2020, and more than half (54%) plan to hire new staff

 Vistage, the world’s leading business performance and leadership advancement organisation for small and mid-size businesses, has today revealed the results of its quarterly confidence index.

The survey, conducted in the lead up to the UK‘s December general election, reveals that nearly half (46%) surveyed felt that economic conditions in the last 12 months had worsened over the previous year, and only 40% were confident 2020 would see an improvement. As an illustration of this frosty outlook, 42% said they will offer no bonus or reduced bonuses this year, with 12% directly attributing this decision to uncertainty about 2020.

However, the report does reveal a sense of optimism for 2020. 64% of small and midsize business owners are confident of their firm’s ability to make headway next year, expecting sales revenues to increase in 2020. Furthermore, 86% of respondents confirmed that they will be continuing to invest in the business, more than half (54%) will be hiring new staff.

Geoff Lawrence, Vistage’s UK Managing Director, said: “2019 has proven a particularly tough year for UK small and medium size companies. Our quarterly confidence index has tracked its seventh consecutive quarter where uncertainty about the UK’s overall economic prospects and questions about progress towards the UK’s exit from the EU has taken its toll on firms. While the days are short and dark in December, it is also a time of hope.

“We are pleased to see that most businesses are indeed confident of better days ahead for 2020. The latest survey also tells us that Vistage members remain emphatic about their growth prospects. We know that Vistage members’ businesses consistently outperform their peers and the next 12 months look similarly positive.”

Independent research about performance through the last major recession of 2008 revealed the effectiveness of peer-group mentoring in adverse conditions. The study showed that Vistage members’ businesses grew 5.8% in that period compared to non-Vistage member companies whose businesses declined by an average 9.2%.

Vistage is an executive coaching organisation where business leaders enhance their leadership skills and solve their most important business challenges. Members meet with their peers in group meetings, facilitated  by  accomplished  executive-level  coaches,  to  help  solve  their  most  complex  issues.  They receive additional perspectives from expert speakers and a global membership community.