Small firms confident in spite of “gloomy” expert predictions

However, reduced consumer spending, Brexit and a tumultuous political climate were identified as major threats to growth

The UK’s small digital businesses are optimistic about their growth prospects for the coming year, despite expert predictions of “swirling headwinds” and “economic disaster”, according to the eBay for Business Index.

46% of the 416 small businesses surveyed were confident about the prospect of future growth, with just 19% claiming to be pessimistic. Respondents said they expect this growth to be generated by export sales and the diversification of product lines.

52% of small businesses expressed “fatigue” with the predictions of “doom and gloom” that don’t ultimately affect their growth potential, while 72% said they are confident that “they are the masters of their own destiny” when it comes to business success.

However, respondents identified five risks that could impact growth over the coming year with a reduction in customer spending (41%) ranked as the number one concern. Uncertainty surrounding Brexit (36%) and the occurrence of an unforeseen political incident (28%) were also identified as major risks, followed by expensive imports (22%) and unsatisfactory broadband (12%).

Dieter Newell, senior director of seller growth at eBay UK, said: “The Britain’s online enterprises are showing an impressive resilience in the face of economic uncertainty, with a quarter telling us they have become better prepared for risks in the past year.

“That said, a number of risks remain, with a weak pound and consumer confidence chief among the concerns expressed by the businesses we’ve spoken to.”

Monty George, managing director of Furniture Box, commented: “I’m not saying the experts are wrong, but things like the strength of the pound are shaped by forces outside our control, so whilst they can have an impact on business, you can’t let them affect your ambitions. As an entrepreneur you’ve got to be bold and invest for the growth of your business or idea.”

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