New research from American Express states that more than half (51%) of the
’s small business owners expect their firms to grow in the coming 12 months. UK
A further 37% expect their businesses to stay in the same shape, and only 11% expect their businesses to contract.
The American Express UK Small Business Barometer also states that seven in 10 small business owners are expecting growth to come domestically. Regarding the emerging markets sector, only one in 10 business owners said they would be looking to this region for opportunities.
Attracting new customers and maximising sales will be the key focus for small businesses in the next year, with only 14% focused on cutting budgets to ensure their business is in better financial shape. The vast majority (76%) are relying heavily on word-of-mouth to attract new customers, therefore having a good customer service experience will be key in driving future growth. Just over a quarter (26%) are expecting social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to help build their new customer base.
Strategy and planning for the future is the area where more than half (56%) of the business owners interviewed wish they could devote more time. However, most admitted that they are operating on a short-term basis, with 38% saying they are only planning six months in advance and a third operating on a week-to-week basis only.
Stacey Sterbenz, director for American Express Small Business Services UK, said: “While previously the focus might have been on cost-cutting or fixing cashflow issues, it’s encouraging that the majority of small businesses seem to be focused on growth, acquiring new customers and maximising any potential upturn in consumer confidence.
“Our research shows that it is more important than ever for businesses to invest in planning, marketing and customer service. With so many companies relying on word-of-mouth, going that extra mile for customers will be key in gaining a competitive edge and to take advantage of new trading opportunities.”