Optimistic outlook for small businesses

British small firms are feeling healthy and confident, according to the biggest ever UK survey of entrepreneurs, conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The annual Lifting the Barriers to Growth in UK Small Businesses survey received over 18,000 responses from small firms, painting a rosy picture of a small business community benefiting from the rejuvenated economy and increasing sales.

Furthermore, a quarter of those who responded have started their businesses within the last three years and, of these recent start-ups the proportion of young and female entrepreneurs is increasing.

Looking to the future, optimism is rife, as over half are looking to grow their businesses over the next two years, while a small minority of 5% are intending to downsize or shut up shop.

The survey produced mixed news for Business Link and other government-sponsored support groups. While the number of small businesses using them has risen dramatically, from a mere 1% in 2002 to 17% in 2004 – with a quarter of start-ups utilising their services – there is still a large number who are unaware of what is on offer. Almost a quarter believe that the services would be inappropriate for their businesses.

The bad news for small businesses, besides the continuing problems with red tape, is that an alarming 6 out of 10 have been victims of crime in the last year. However, more than a third believed that reporting crime would not achieve anything and a quarter displayed little faith in the policeÂ’s ability to catch the offenders.

For more details of the Lifting the Barriers to Growth survey, click here

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Business confidence