Nothing acts as a true barometer of the business climate than the confidence levels of our small businesses.
So it is encouraging to see that it remains high, despite the uncertainties thrown up by the on-going Brexit saga.
And it is being supported by a strong belief of the core strengths of our SME sectors – the backbone of the Lancashire economy.
A survey carried out by American Express and Oxford Economics revealed that 41 per cent of the businesses quizzed plan to use the advantages that they have as an SME – such as agility, innovation and strong customer relationships – as one of their top three strategies for fuelling revenue growth over the next 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, ‘customer focus’ is at the heart of the strategy for most small businesses. Respondents also prioritised ‘agility’ as the most important capability to develop over the next three years for meeting business challenges, and are planning to consolidate their operational effectiveness in 2018.
This was an international survey, so what was also interesting was the finding that the UK was the most “customer-centric” market out of the 12 countries surveyed.
Here in Lancashire our SMEs fully recognise the importance of staying close to their customers’ demands if they are to grow. It is one of our many strengths.
Overall Confidence levels among the UK’s SMEs have more than quadrupled in the last year, with 57 per cent feeling optimistic about the global economy over the next 12 months.
Another encouraging sign for Lancashire is the fact that we bucked the national trend in 2017 – it was a record year for new businesses in the county with 10,646 registered. We wish them all well at the start of their exciting journey!
By Paul Spencer, director, Haworths. 3rd April 18