Nigel Mills
Recognition PR Business Team

Member Article

Entrepreneur confidence at its highest since North East research began

Confidence in businesses and the economy is at its highest since quarterly research by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum began almost two years ago.

More than 65% of business leaders in the latest Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey, covering the fourth quarter of 2013, said that they had witnessed an increase in sales, compared with the same period in 2012.

Business fortunes and employment also were on the increase with 64% of respondents saying they had seen a rise in profits and 49% experiencing an expanding workforce in comparison to the same period in 2012.

This business buoyancy looks set to continue into 2014 with 75% confident that sales will increase in January to March compared to the first quarter of last year. Just under 70% expect profits to increase during that period.

The research, under taken by Acritas, also has revealed that confidence in both respondents’ own businesses and the economy as a whole was at its highest level since the survey began at the beginning of 2012.

Key findings included:

• 74% reported feeling more confident in their own business and 70% said they had more confidence in the economy than at the same point three months ago. In Q3, these figures were 69% and 67% respectively.

• There has been a dramatic rise in confidence since the first survey took place in early 2012 when it was only 16%.

• 75% of entrepreneurs forecast a rise in sales in the first three months of 2014, compared with predictions for Q4 of 2013 of 72%.

• Challenges facing businesses included finding quality, skilled staff to fill vacancies (18%), red tape (10%), cashflow and competition (12%) and generating new sales leads (13%).

During the last decade, The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has developed a cross-sector peer group of like-minded individuals who share ideas, knowledge and connections, continually taking soundings from hundreds of individual member companies in the North East.

Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum said: “Entrepreneurial business owners are the life blood of the North East economy and its future prosperity and it is heartening to see that our Business Tracker Survey has revealed that confidence is at its highest level since the research began

“This optimism is re-enforced by a majority of businesses surveyed reporting a growth in sales, profits and jobs. This demonstrates how entrepreneurial businesses are adept at seizing business opportunities and how they are making a substantial contribution to the economic fabric of the region.

“However, it cannot be ignored that there are some obstacles to business development with a key one being companies’ ability to find quality staff that meet a company’s needs.

“Going forward businesses, training organisations and the education sector need to work together to try to tackle this skills shortage.”

The findings of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum research are reflected by how well estate agent and property consultants Sanderson Young, which has offices across the region, are doing.

The company, which principally focuses on the sale and letting of properties throughout Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham, is experiencing its best trading for seven years and has recruited four additional staff in the last four months. It also expects to take on another three employees in the next six to 12 months taking the workforce up to 55.

Managing Director Duncan Young, a member of the Forum, said: “The housing market is very buoyant and we have had an extremely positive start to 2014 entering the year with 67 percent more sales in the pipeline than at the beginning of last year. We are confident this level of business is set to continue.”

David Nicholson, Managing Director of The Nicholson Group of Companies, who is another Forum member, said his business also epitomises the growth and confidence highlighted by the research.

Billingham-based Nicholson Group, which comprises Nicholson Transport, Box Clever Storage Solutions, and lorry-mounted crane operator Nicholson Hiab, employs about 40 staff. Its workforce is increasing on average by two employees per quarter and it recently also recruited two apprentices.

Mr Nicholson said: “We are experiencing confidence in our marketplace which is helping fuel business growth and has led to increases in our workforce. It is important to develop an appropriately skilled workforce to meet future needs, which is why the group believes it is important to invest in apprenticeships.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Recognition PR Business Team .

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