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UK SMEs optimistic about 2013

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There is hope on the horizon for small and mid-sized businesses in 2013, despite a challenging 2012. 51 per cent of business owners across Britain expect their own businesses to grow in the coming 12 months, revealed new research conducted by American Express.

Challenging economic climate aside, the American Express UK Small Business Barometer finds that seven in ten small business owners assume growth will come domestically. Only one in ten businesses will look to the emerging markets sector for opportunities. To ensure their business is in better financial shape, 14 per cent strategically focused on cutting budgets. 

Growing businesses expect to prosper by attracting new customers (80 per cent) and maximising sales (62 per cent). The vast majority are relying on word of mouth to attract new customers, so good customer service will be crucial in driving growth. Just over a quarter (26 per cent) expect social media such as Facebook and Twitter to help build their new customer base.

Some 56 per cent of the businesses interviewed wish they could devote more time to strategy and planning for the future. However, most admit to operating on a short-term basis, 38 per cent saying they only plan six months in advance and a third are operating on a week-to-week basis only.

Stacey Sterbenz, director for American Express Small Business Services UK, said:  “While previously the focus might have been on cost cutting or fixing cash flow issues, it’s encouraging that the majority of SMEs seem to be focused on growth, acquiring new customers and maximising any potential upturn in consumer confidence.”

Other key findings in the Small Business Barometer:

  • 59 per cent say their New Year business resolution will be to look for new opportunities or diversify their business;
  • 30 per cent of small business owners find it very challenging to attract new customers;
  • 44 per cent of small business owners say they are working ‘longer hours than ever before’ due to the pressure of running their business; and
  • 37 per cent have missed out on holidays in the last 12 months due to work commitments.

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