The poll of business owners and founders by accountancy firm Chantry Vellacott also suggests 21 per cent expect 2015 to be ‘much better’ than 2014. When asked about their top priorities for increasing performance in the next 12 months, 62 per cent say it is to increase their UK customer base.
Just under half (44 per cent) identify improving their business technology as a top concern and 40 per cent say they would focus on launching new products.
Despite the general air of optimism, owner-managed businesses (OMBs) do name some domestic and international factors that are causing them concern for the year ahead. A potential increase in business rates (60 per cent) is the main worry; followed by the idea of the 50 per cent tax rate being restored following the general election.
Despite the widely-reported economic recovery, doubts about the strength of the UK economy are still a concern for about half (49 per cent) of respondents. Domestic competition (45 per cent), and a lack of available skills (39 per cent) are also giving some owners sleepless nights.
The demand for a shrinking talent poll of candidates is leading to a widespread increase in wages, which is causing 40 per cent of respondents to tighten the purse strings in 2015. This is an increase of 12 per cent on the 2014 figure.
Chantrey Vellacott managing partner Mike Tovey says that as confidence is so important for the markets, it is ‘reassuring that business owners are still optimistic about hitting profit and revenue targets’.
‘It is also impossible to ignore the shadow cast by the upcoming general election. Businesses are unsettled by the uncertainty and future of government policies, particularly the longevity of the tax incentives they value,’ he warns.
‘OMBs are relatively bullish about their prospects, but they also give a clear message to those in power – a stable economy and tax regime is important to maintain OMB confidence and growth.’