Small businesses reveal surge in growth and optimism for next 12 months

As well as representing a significant shift in performance for the majority of small businesses, the number achieving ‘significant’ growth has also risen, increasing three-fold from 13 per cent last year to 49 per cent in 2015.

The positive picture was revealed today by the American Express Small Business Barometer which also found the majority of firms are either hitting or beating their growth targets.  What’s more, bosses say turnover has increased by an average of 18 per cent over the last twelve months.

Importantly, rather than being seen as a temporary uplift, small businesses expect growth to continue to accelerate.  Firms hope to increase turnover by an average of 24 per cent in the coming 12 months which represents a notable 33 per cent increase on current performance.

Providing further encouragement, the research, which surveyed owners and managers of businesses with 0 to 49 employees, also found that the number of businesses reporting negative growth fell to just 5 per cent compared to 13 per cent in the 2014 survey. This significant shift was echoed across the European markets included in the research.

While revenue growth is traditionally considered the primary measure of performance, the American Express Small Business Barometer found that for small businesses, satisfied customers, a sense of personal fulfilment and a better work/life balance are the top three personal definitions of business success.

Stacey Sterbenz from American Express Small Business Services said: “Small businesses make a significant contribution to the economy so the positive picture that our research has revealed is very encouraging, not just for the present time but also as an indicator for future economic growth.  Of course, success is not a foregone conclusion – small business owners tell us that the challenges they face are many.  Our experience in providing financial management tools for small business owners not only helps to ease some of the day to day challenges that may distract them from growth but allows us to continue providing valuable support as these businesses seek to expand.”

In terms of identifying what would help their businesses grow and prosper over the coming year, more than half of British small businesses said that entering new markets would be important when it comes to growth over the next 12 months, closely followed by using social media to develop customer relationships.

Despite the obstacles and challenges faced in running a small business, the majority said they would do it all again without hesitation.