Entrepreneurs Optimistic About 2012 Economic Outlook

More small business owners are optimistic than pessimistic about the prospects for growth next year, despite eurozone uncertainty and fears of a global slowdown, research by business insurer Hiscox has found.

In the business insurers’ opinion poll of 3,000 small and medium-sized enterprises across the UK, Europe and the US, almost half were confident about 2012 compared with a quarter who were not. UK and Spanish small business owners were the least upbeat amongst the respondents, while the Germans and Dutch were the most bullish in their outlook.

Many small firms admitted that the euro crisis was taking its toll on them, however, with nearly half saying that their business plans had been negatively affected.

Late payments were also a problem for half of business owners, regardless of where they were based, while accessing finance was seen as more difficult now than a year ago. UK firms were the least likely to find securing finance an easy task, according to the poll.

Commenting on the results, Hiscox chief executive Bronek Masojada said:

“Every day SMEs have to assess and manage a wide variety of risks at different levels of intensity, but the strength and resilience of entrepreneurs continues.”

One reason for optimism was the business philosophy of many small firms, he added. The majority (59 per cent) of entrepreneurs had set up their own business to be their own boss rather than make money, said Masojada, making them less reliant on economic success.

However, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that confidence amongst UK small business owners had fallen sharply since the beginning of August. Its recent survey of 122 business leaders found that 70 per cent were pessimistic about the economy due to problems in the eurozone and the possibility of a second banking crisis. 

“We’re at a critical tipping point, with the eurozone crisis reaching a crescendo and UK GDP growth forecasts being revised down.”

said CBI director general John Cridland.

“The Chancellor needs to use his Autumn Statement to boost business confidence with game-changing new ideas.”

The Chancellor makes his Autumn Statement tomorrow (Tuesday) and is expected to announce plans for government-backed business lending in the form of the National Loan Guarantee Scheme.

For full details of the business insurer’s findings see the DNA of an Entrepreneur report.

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