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SMEs show 'grit and resilience' despite Brexit uncertainty

A new survey of UK SMEs has found that despite concerns about rising costs and Brexit, many small business owners are positive about the year ahead and are planning to grow their business.

The poll, conducted by the Donut websites, has found that 47% of small business owners believe the economic outlook for 2017 is likely to be better for their business than 2016.

The study, Is the future bright for small businesses?, found that although 35% of business owners say they are unsure about how their business will fare in the coming year, only 18% believe the economic outlook is likely to be worse.

In addition, at least one in three small firms is making plans for growth - 39% of UK small business owners intend to increase spending in 2017, and 36% plan to recruit new staff. The data shows that 57% of respondents plan to spend more on sales and marketing in 2017. Other spending priorities include IT and technology (41%), equipment, plant and machinery (32%), and training and development (31%).

However, business owners remain concerned about rising costs and the outlook for the UK post-Brexit. Key findings include:

  • just 20% of business owners are "very confident" that the Government can deliver a good Brexit deal for SMEs;
  • 23% are worried about losing key EU staff;
  • 19% plan to make cuts in their business;
  • costs have risen "significantly" for one-third of businesses.

The introduction of the Living Wage and auto-enrolment pensions has affected many small firms, and only 2% said that being an employer has become cheaper in the past year.

The Donuts polled 664 small businesses in the UK. Most respondents were business owners (60%) or directors (21%), and were either sole traders (47%) or the owners of micro-businesses with four or fewer employees (25%).

"These results highlight the grit and resilience of the UK's small business community," said Rory MccGwire, Chief Executive of Atom Content Marketing which publishes the Donut sites. 
"As ever, business owners are not putting their heads in the sand in the face of uncertainty. They are determined to succeed, and it's encouraging to see so many business owners making plans to recruit, invest and grow."

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