SFA Quarter 2 Business Sentiment Survey

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Small business sentiment continues to improve

8 out of 10 will invest in the business over next 12-24 months

Top three areas for investment are brand development; staff development and IT investment.

“Business confidence levels show further improvement through the second quarter of 2013 and while the environment remains challenging, the business performance is encouraging.” Avine McNally, Acting Director, Small Firms Association

The Small Firms Association (SFA) has released the findings of its Q2 Business Sentiment Survey. Commenting on the figures, SFA Acting Director, Avine McNally said, “business confidence levels have shown further improvement through the second quarter of 2013 and while the environment remains challenging, the business performance is encouraging and companies are looking to the future with an increasing sense of optimism.”

Six out of ten firms indicated that their business would be moving back into a growth phase, in the coming 12 months, with the majority of these respondents focused on international markets.

24% of respondent companies rate the overall business environment to be either ‘very good’ or ‘good’. While over four in ten (41%) rate their own business currently as “very good” or “good”, (an increase of 2% on Q1) and this figure remains stable over the next three months. 32% of firms highlighted that the business was maintaining its current business level, while just over 4% felt their business was in decline (a decrease of 6% on Q2 2012).

“While Ireland have made significant progress in recent years, challenges remain. A weak domestic economy, high business costs; low consumer spending and ongoing uncertainty in Europe are huge challenges for businesses,” said McNally.

Despite the fragile economic environment McNally stated that it is positive to see Irish small firms investing. “Over the next 12-24 months eight companies in ten indicated investment at some level within their business. Many are investing in the expectation of new orders; increased market opportunities; increased customers and economic recovery,” said McNally.

The top areas for investment for small firms are:
42% - Brand development
27% - Staff development
16% - Investment in IT
8% - Update and modernise machinery
7% - Invest in updating company premises

Respondents also highlighted the top five business priorities for their business, in the coming months, which they believed would enhance growth and job creation in their business:

1. Finding new customers for existing products/services

2. Developing new products/services

3. Adopting more modern forms of marketing i.e. social networks

4. Increasing the skills of existing staff

5. Exploiting digital technologies to deliver better customer service

McNally highlighted that small firms are ambitious for growth, she called on Government to ensure that they assist small firms build on these ambitions by creating an environment conducive to small business and focus on tangible actions that can be delivered. These include:

No increases on employment costs in Budget 2014.
Increase credit availability to SMEs and financing facilities to support expansion and improve cashflow.
Reduce business costs.

For further information, please contact: Avine McNally, Acting Director, Small Firms Association. Telephone: 01 605 1633 (work) 087 645 0205 (mobile) Twitter: @SFA_Irl