Three-quarters of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are optimistic for the year ahead and more than a third are planning for growth, research has revealed.
A survey of 1,000 SME owners by Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance found that 53 per cent are cautiously optimistic, 22 per cent are very optimistic and 36 per cent are planning for growth.
Half of SME owners hope to keep their company on an even keel this year and only one per cent are considering closing their business this year, down from 46 per cent who considered this during 2020.
SMEs reported the biggest positive that came out from the pandemic was the strengthening of employee relationships (34 per cent) followed by improvements to business/customer relationships (31 per cent).
Almost a third (29 per cent) said Covid had made them leaner and more agile and 12 per cent said it had enabled them to find new income streams.
Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance also cited data from the Office for National Statistics showing that Brexit and further lockdowns are the biggest worry for SMEs.
“We are not out of the woods yet but with some certainty over the lifting of restrictions on 19 July, SMEs are generally in a better position to plan their finances based on what they hope to achieve in 2021 – over a third want to grow their businesses this year,” said Todd Davison, managing director of Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance.
“The ability to plan and focus on the future after 18 months of massive uncertainty is reflected in the reported levels of optimism amongst SME business leaders.
“The ONS business insights data shows that 88 per cent of businesses are now trading, the highest percentage since comparable estimates began in June 2020, however for 30 per cent this is below their usual capacity.
“While we back the calls for government help for small businesses to cover the 18-day window between financial support winding down and the lifting of restrictions, it is quite likely that these businesses will need to find ways to stand on their own two feet during this period. Maintaining dialogue with lenders, creditors, suppliers and customers will remain vital.”