Haines Watts has just released its latest Growth research into over a thousand (1,019) UK small and medium sized owner-managed businesses – to explore UK business growth prospects. The conclusion would appear to be that UK SME OMB are quietly and cautiously confident about the future. International research from Grant Thornton supports the UK’s business optimism.

The main findings of the Haines Watts research are:

  • 52% said they set up a business “to be their own boss”
  • 33% report cash flow management as one of the top hurdles – 17% indicated that it was the war for talent
  • 44% achieved positive growth over the past three years – with 52% of that growth from the UK (only 2% have grown through acquisition). 33% reported that they had stayed the same
  • 32% do not see any value in formulating a business plan – with 56% relying on their own knowledge of the sector and 15% admitting they conduct no growth research at all
  • Providing a quality client service appears to be a major strategy for many
  • Looking to the future:
    • 30% report modest growth anticipated of between 1% and 5%
    • 19% forecast growth between 6% and 10%
    • 17% expect to remain largely the same
    • 51% see UK growth at the heart of their long term plans – 12% are looking to expand internationally (42% believe this will be in the Eurozone, 13% Africa and 12% North America) and only 11% through product diversification
    • Only 10% believe that finance will come from their banks – 66% will rely on internal cash flow and just 3% will look to private investors

Haines Watts is a top 15 firm of Chartered accountants with 60 offices around the UK and over 35,000 clients. You can download the full report here: http://www.hwca.com/blog/p/growing-a-successful-business-is-about-more-than-the-bottom-line/ 

These findings would appear to be supported by research (also issued in early November) from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) which reveals that with many emerging economies slowing, it is now the UK and US driving global business growth prospects.

The IBR reveals UK business optimism has shot up from 34% in Q2 this year to 76% in Q3. That is the highest figure ever recorded for the UK in 22 years of IBR research, and makes its business community the third most optimistic in the 45-economy survey. Business optimism in the US remains high too, at 52% in Q3 although marginally down from 55% in Q2.

By comparison, businesses in emerging economies are markedly less confident. Brazilian optimism fell from 43% to 31% in the last quarter, a record low, while across Latin America as a whole optimism fell from 48% to 38% – its lowest since 2009. Elsewhere, Indian optimism (57%) fell to its lowest since 2003; Russia slid from 28% to 19%; Turkey (6%) dropped to its lowest since the financial crisis; and South Africa hit an all-time low of 18%. China seems to be one step ahead of the other major emerging nations: having fallen to a record low of 4% in Q2, business optimism improved to 31% in Q3. Full report here: http://www.internationalbusinessreport.com/press-room/2013/U_turn.asp