Most of the smallest firms in Scotland are shrugging off the tough times with plans to grow their businesses over the next 12 months, according to a BT-sponsored survey published today.
The 2011 Small Business Report shows that 88 per cent of Scottish small businesses have ambitious plans to grow turnover, with 39 per cent taking on staff and 41 per cent turning to sub-contracting or outsourcing.
The report, compiled by small business support company Enterprise Nation with support from BT, surveyed more than 1220 UK micro-enterprises employing between one and five people.
Founder Emma Jones today unveiled a 10-point plan to encourage start-ups and support existing businesses to grow when she announced the report at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
She urged private and public partnerships to increase the availability of super-fast fibre broadband and affordable workspace to create the right conditions for start-ups and growth. Nearly 60 per cent of the firms surveyed declared that super-fast was essential for their business.
Surveys and polls carried out by Enterprise Nation over the past five years show that the main factor holding people back from becoming their own boss is lack of confidence and fear of failure. This is repeated in this year’s survey.
The report says starting a business in the UK is seen as high risk and high cost with millions believing it beyond their talent and means. This is reinforced through TV and media coverage.
Emma Jones said: “The small business sector is undergoing significant change. The number of people starting a business is on the increase at the same time as government funds to support small business are on the decrease.
“This is a landscape that presents an opportunity for the private sector to step in and provide quality products and services and for small business owners to help, support and mentor each other.”
She added: “The UK faces a clear opportunity to unleash its entrepreneurial spirit. We must act now to present self-employment as a viable option to the millions of people dreaming of turning an idea into a business. These businesses should be supported by products and services from the public and private sector, enabling technology and peer support from fellow owners.”
Brendan Dick, director, BT Scotland, said: “Small and medium-sized enterprises provide an engine of growth and innovation. Employing 60 per cent of the private sector workforce, small businesses are the lifeblood of communities across the UK.
“This report highlights some of the challenges that this inspirational sector faces, challenges that we should consider carefully on our journey towards becoming an enterprise nation.
“For BT, which has more than a million small business customers in the UK, it re-emphasises the singular importance of technology in encouraging and supporting the development of new enterprise in Scotland. Super-fast broadband enables more businesses to work online, and, crucially, to compete more effectively and efficiently in today’s global markets.
“No company is doing more than BT to bring sophisticated, high-speed communications to small businesses in Scotland. We have already announced plans to make faster broadband available to hundreds of thousands of Scottish homes and businesses and welcome the opportunity to work with the public sector to bring the high-speed service to the most challenging areas.”
The full report and survey, “A Window of Opportunity: Small Business Report 2011”, can be accessed at www.enterprisenation.com
Contact: BT Sc otland press office
Phone: 0800 085 0660