SFA Business Sentiment Survey 2014

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


    - Small business sentiment continues to improve
    - 49% of firms rate their own business as “good” or “very good”
      - 1 in 5 firms hope to increase employee numbers in 2014


    “Business confidence levels have shown further improvement in the first quarter of 2014 and while the environment remains challenging, the business performance is encouraging and companies are looking to the future with an increasing sense of optimism.” Patricia Callan,
    Director, Small Firms Association.

    The Small Firms Association (SFA) has released the findings of its Q1 2014 Business Sentiment Survey. Commenting on the figures, SFA Director, Patricia Callan said, “Business confidence levels have shown further improvement in the first quarter of 2014 and while the environment remains challenging, the business performance is encouraging and companies are looking to the future with an increasing sense of optimism.”

    The results show that 43% of respondents rate the Overall Business Environment as ‘good” or ‘very good, the figure has increased by 8% from Q4 2013. While 48% expect the overall business environment in the next three months to be either ‘good or ‘very good.

    Just under half of small firms (49%) currently rate their own business as “good” or “very good” an increase of 7% on Q2 2013 and 46% remained positive about their business in the coming three months. Over 38% of respondents felt more confident about their business than three months ago while 49% felt their business was the same and 11% were less confident.

    Business Indicators
    In addition to improved business confidence respondents were positive across several other business indicators which are encouraging for growth.
      77% of firms had maintained or improved their profitability.
      Domestic market sales had increased for 36% of small firms while 30% of those companies who export had seen an increase in sales.
      Over nine in ten companies had maintained or expanded their customer base (91%).

    Job Figures
    In relation to jobs, the survey shows that over 1 in 5 (21%) hope to increase employee numbers in 2014, this would reflect the recent figures from the CSO Household Survey showing that Ireland's economy continues to strengthen with an upward trend in employment.

    “While the figures are positive, nearly 7% of firms will reduce employee numbers in 2014 as business costs and low consumer demand remain challenges for many firms.”

    “The survey shows that business conditions are steadily improving and points towards business and economic growth over the coming quarters. The weak performance of the wider European economy, however, remains a concern,” said Callan.

    Callan added “a big challenge for small firms, especially those trading on the domestic market, is the fragility of the domestic economy and confidence among consumers.”

    “Government needs to assist small firms to build on the improving prospects by creating a business environment conducive to small business growth. Policies need to be put in place by government that will assist this vital sector drive growth in the wider economy.”

    The SFA put forward the following policy areas to assist small firms:

    1 Placing SMEs at the heart of government policy.
    2 Increase credit availability to SMEs and ensure the current funding initiatives are functioning effectively.
    3 Improved access for SMEs to public procurement contracts.
    4 Reduce business costs.

    For further information, please contact: Patricia Callan, Director, Small Firms Association
    Telephone: 087 645 0205 or e-mail: patricia.callan@sfa.ie.

    Note: The Small Firms Association (SFA) is the national organisation exclusively representing the needs of small enterprises (i.e. those employing less than 50 employees) in Ireland. The organisation works with government and policy makers nationally and internationally, to ensure that the economic environment is conducive to small business establishment and development.
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