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Small Business Unfazed By Challenging Economic Conditions Finds Vistage Confidence Index

  • Three quarters (75%) of business owners forecasting increased revenues in next 12 months
  • Just 12% anticipate significant impact on trading when UK exits EU
  • Political instability cited as key factor weighing down wider economy

Small business owners are shrugging off concerns over the wider economy with bullish predictions on revenues and hiring over the coming 12 months, new research by CEO peer advisory organisation Vistage has found.

According to the latest Vistage UK SME Confidence Index, three quarters (75%) of CEOs and business leaders within the UK’s small to medium enterprise community are predicting an increase in revenues over the coming year, while 60% say they plan to increase hiring to sustain growth. Overall confidence among small business owners hit a year high in Q1, rising 3.3 points since the last member survey in December 2017.

The optimistic forecasts from Vistage members come despite ongoing concerns about the wider performance of the UK economy. A third of respondents believe overall economic conditions have worsened compared to a year ago, while a similar proportion (37%) predict a further deterioration over the coming year.

A majority (83%) of respondents who expressed concerns over the economy blame ongoing political instability for weighing down wider economic performance, suggesting a level of frustration within the community. Just 12% of respondents say they believe their business will see a significant impact from the eventual outcomes of Brexit negotiations. Vistage found that a majority (60%) of small businesses have yet to consider any specific plans for Brexit, with most preferring to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Roger Martin-Fagg, economist in residence at Vistage UK, said: “The results of the latest Confidence Index suggest our members do not see Brexit as a major threat to future success and are eager to push ahead with growth plans as their confidence grows.

“The continued lack of clarity over the path ahead remains both a frustration and concern however. Such uncertainty can quickly derail optimism if left unchecked, so it is encouraging to see that our members are not letting these issues become a distraction from the job in hand. With strong leaders at the helm, small business owners are well-positioned to be nimble and adaptable in the face of changing market conditions.”

Vistage is the world’s leading CEO peer advisory organisation with over 22,000 members in 20 countries worldwide, including more than 1,000 members in the UK. The results of the Q1 2018 UK SME Confidence Index are drawn from a survey of Vistage members based in the UK and Ireland. The full report and findings can be found here: https://vis.pm/2Jk1YHq