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UK business leaders' top concerns revealed

Finding talent is as big a concern for UK business leaders as increasing turnover, according to a new survey published by management consulting firm Clarus Consulting.

Mark Croft, Clarus consulting managing partner, said: "Our research shows that skills shortages are a reality for many businesses across the board, from FTSE giants down to small and medium-sized firms." He stressed that some businesses are finding it hard to get people with the skills that they need.

The research found that UK businesses remained focused on fundamentals – the four core traditional issues of increasing turnover, finding the right talent, improving performance and increasing profitability, as feedback from 79% of respondents showed.

However, digital channels and the threat posed by online competition were considered a top-three challenge by just 9% of respondents. Croft added: "Digital channels are not a top issue for most UK leaders right now. This seems surprising, but it is a reflection perhaps of the extent to which businesses want to focus on the fundamentals of performance while the going is good." He believes that business leaders are more concerned with the tangible "bricks and mortar" of a business, rather than its "virtual footprint".

The survey's findings also suggest that the prospect of a referendum on the UK leaving the European Union isn't a main concern for business leaders at this time, although that could change as a referendum approaches. Just 8% of respondents believed that the UK leaving the EU would have a severely negative impact on their business.

While 46% believed the effects would be somewhat negative, they believe they could adjust and compensate by generating business elsewhere; while 32% think that it would have no impact on their business. Other macro-economic issues, such as an increase in interest rates or the price of oil, were not given as top concerns.

Perhaps showing a marked lack of confidence or just the scale of the problems some UK businesses are facing, just 19% of respondents felt "very confident" about successfully overcoming their top challenges.

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