Telling the truth about SME life today

Hope, snow and skiving

One of the better business surveys I’ve read recently here. Decent, robust sample – 3,000 small firms. Moderately encouraging results. Findings that register with our own experiences.

O2 research shows that small firms are feeling ever so slightly more confident about prospects in 2010. This is largely because they’ve taken steps to streamline their ops in 2009 and, even if trading remains pretty flat, sales and margins should respond as a result.

The main steps they’ve taken are these:

"Reducing stock levels, renegotiating payment terms with suppliers and tightening credit control were all cited as among the most popular methods taken by businesses to improve working capital. Freezing pay and introducing unpaid holidays were also identified as ways to help improve the financial health of businesses. It follows widespread redundancies throughout the sector with nearly four out of ten (39 per cent) of businesses revealing they had cut staff, compared to 1 in 100 businesses 6 months ago."

As a result, 59 per cent of smaller firms expect their firms to perform better in 2010.

Another piece of researc out today shows small firms ever more keen to move their operations online – and "close up shop". The Kleinwort Benson UK Entrepreneurs Survey, reported in the FT, says:

"76 per cent of approximately 100 respondents said they intended to increase the use of e-marketing in 2010 and 53 per cent said an online presence was critical". In particular, 42 per cent of small firms wil use Twitter or Facebook to expand their businesses

All of this, of course, depends on small firms actually having any employees to do the work. It’s reckoned that ten per cent of the workforce have skived off work this work to listen to the cricket (sorry, worked from home due to dangerous icy conditions). Stephen Alambritis of the Federation of Small Businesses told Reuters that the snow’s costing the UK £600m a day.

NB: I’m off home now – 6pm!


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