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Forum survey reveals business leaders’ growing confidence

A survey carried out by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum has found that business leaders are feeling more upbeat, with confidence at its highest since the organisation began its quarterly research nearly two years ago.

More than 65% of business leaders the organisation’s 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 were also found to be 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 is expected 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 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%), cash-flow and competition (12%) and generating new sales leads (13%)

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.”

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