Small business confidence continues to climb

There has been an abundance of news in recent months about the confidence of small business when it comes to growth expectations – a recent study has shown that two thirds of small businesses are expecting imminent growth. Furthermore, there has been a decrease of 25 per cent in businesses seeking finance purely to fund working capital, but instead are looking for finance to fund growth, which is great news for the economy.

Confidence is at an all-time high it seems, but what are the side effects of such optimism and ambition. Certainly, a stronger jobs market is a situation that has been celebrated, but as smaller firms look to recruit in pursuit of business growth, they may struggle, dependent on what sector they are in, and the competition for good candidates in those sectors. Indeed, it is the small business market that has helped fuel jobs growth – and now it is that very group that may struggle to recruit new talent.

That aside, small businesses still need great support in taking that step to growing a business, especially when in recent years many may have been concentrating on survival alone. The availability of initiatives such as Local Enterprise Partnerships and Regional Growth Funds will play a significant role in helping this situation by creating regional champions – and this can be said for all sectors, not just those that are seen to need a helping hand.

The government needs to continue its support of the SME sector to encourage growth further and ensure the recovery is set for the long term. There also needs to be continued support in areas such as the Prompt Payment Scheme, to ensure smaller companies don’t get into financial difficulty as a results of late payments by larger firms, and some lenience from HMRC in tax payments of arrears; as at the moment, HRMC seems to be quite rigid and not allowing the time to pay that is needed, even where business owners are paying and covering arrears or offering reasonable payment terms.

It’s truly encouraging to read about small business confidence, as a sure sign of a sustainable recovery – let’s hope it stays that way.