Small business sentiment down 9 points in past six months

Thursday, 24 May 2018

        · Small business sentiment down 9 points in past six months – survey
        · Labour market shortages now number one threat to small businesses
        · SFA launches campaign for a national Small Business Strategy

Speaking at the Small Firms Association (SFA) Annual Conference 2018, in partnership with Ulster Bank and sponsored by One4all, on Thursday, 24 May, Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director stated: "Confidence among small business has dampened in the last six months, with 53% now believing that the business environment is improving, compared with 62% in November 2017. For the first time, attracting talent has been identified as the #1 threat to small businesses. The tightening labour market is very challenging for SFA members as two-thirds look to recruit over the coming year.”

"Even in a growing economy, less than half of owner-managers tell us their businesses are growing. That is why the Government’s focus should now be on creating a leap forward in the conditions for small businesses. Today, the SFA is officially launching its campaign for a national Small Business Strategy. In Ireland, we know exactly what it takes to create real, transformational change, as we have successfully built a world-class environment for multinational companies. This know-how must now be harnessed for the benefit of almost a quarter of a million small businesses,” continued Spollen-Behrens.
According to the SFA, there are eight key considerations for Government when designing a Small Business Strategy:
    1. Strategy should be a common vision with whole-of-government buy-in.
    2. Public awareness and acceptance important.
    3. Strategy should support all small business – there is no ‘right’ sector to be in.
    4. Strategy should provide coherence – all policies and schemes aligned, no mismatches between rhetoric and practice.
    5. Business-friendly approach to be instilled in public officials across the apparatus of the state.
    6. Strands: tax, cost of doing business, regulatory burden, accessibility and suitability of business supports, enhancing spillovers from multinationals to indigenous firms.
    7. New approach to communicating with small businesses.
    8. All other decisions affecting small business should be informed by the strategy.


For further comment or to arrange an interview, contact Linda Barry, Assistant Director, on tel: 087 1472811 or email:

Editor’s note

The first two documents of the SFA campaign for a national Small Business Strategy are attached.

Full details of the SFA Annual Conference, including an agenda, are available on Speakers include Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fail, and Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair.

Event photographs are available from Jason Clarke, JCP,

For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter: @SFA_Irl #sfaconf

The SFA’s Summer Business Sentiment Survey was conducted in May 2018, with 768 companies responding from a sample of 2,500.

The SFA is the trusted partner of small businesses (less than 50 employees) in Ireland. Its vision is of Ireland as the most vibrant small business community in the world – supporting entrepreneurship, valuing small business and rewarding risk takers.