UK small businesses anticipate return to growth

The research, which questioned over 500 business decision makers with ownership or part ownership of a business with fewer than 50 employees, revealed that nearly two fifths of respondents (38%) expect to see a growth in sales/revenue over the next three months, compared to a third (31%) of businesses surveyed in Q1. Nearly half of all respondents (49%) expected to see growth over the next year.

The survey also asked businesses how they had managed to survive the recession so far. Perhaps unsurprisingly from this sector of the market, the majority of respondents (53%) indicated that looking after their existing customers has been a key tactic in their survival, with one fifth (18%) revealing they had changed their business focus in order to remain competitive.

Encouragingly, the research also reveals that whilst a lack of confidence in the economy continues to be the main barrier to growth for nearly half of businesses (48%), one in five respondents (20%) perceive no real barrier to their ability to grow their business over the next 12 months.

Tony Leahy, at Bank of Cyprus UK, said: “In the current climate any bit of optimism from the smaller-end of the UK business community is to be welcomed. The fortunes of sole traders or owner-managed businesses are heavily influenced by what happens in their local economy, so it is not surprising that a focus on customer retention (rather than growth) has been key to their survival.”

“The fact that almost half of the respondents anticipate growth over the next 12 months is heartening, but should not be taken for granted. It is therefore crucial that banks like ourselves are there to help OMBs deliver on these aspirations, and continue to facilitate these early signs of recovery.”