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Small businesses made of sterner stuff

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Business Link’s survey of 2,000 business owners provides an interesting snapshot of how SMEs are coping with the downturn, with 73 per cent of respondents saying they are better equipped to survive the recession than their larger counterparts, due to smaller overheads, loyal customer bases and the ability to respond quickly to market shifts.

“Take heart: the country’s small businesses are showing resilience in this credit crunch. Instead of battening down the hatches, they’re looking to find and exploit new opportunities,” says Patrick Elliott, chief executive of Business Link in London and former owner of consultancy and private equity firm Opta, which he sold to US multinational SAIC for over £7m in 2003.

“I remember running my business during the mini downturn of 2000 and having to cut salaries (including my own) and make redundancies. But over 80 per cent of entrepreneurs surveyed this year said they plan to retain current staffing levels, while nine per cent are targeting new geographical markets.”

“London’s SMEs aren’t just seeking to weather the storm, they’re looking to innovate, boost revenues and increase market share.”

Elliott says that calls to Business Link have skyrocketed by 70 per cent as entrepreneurs seek more free advice and guidance. “We’re also running extra ‘drop-in surgeries’ and masterclasses for entrepreneurs.”

You can read a full copy of the poll results here.

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