Small business groups voice cautious optimism for 2012

Although bank credit is less accessible, invoice finance can prove effectiv

As a disappointing year comes to an end for the economy, it'll come as no surprise to many that 2012 is predicted to be a tricky affair for small businesses.

However, as various small business groups have attested to, it’s not all doom and gloom for the new calendar year as there is some optimism for small business success next year.

“Grow, innovate and employ”

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) national chairman, John Walker, expressed concerns about low business confidence and a lack of employment intentions. He also felt concerned that the eurozone would continue to lurch from problem to problem, thus potentially causing small businesses and SMEs to push growth plans back towards the end of 2012.

However, with inflation beginning to decline, the pressure of overheads should lessen and small businesses want to grow if at all possible according to Walker, “Small businesses are getting on with the job and want to grow, innovate and employ. But they are being held back by economic issues. The Government needs to nurture small firms, especially since it is the private sector that is being looked on to pull the economy on to firm ground.”

Export strategy crucial

Head of enterprise at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Chris Lewis, felt that confidence was indeed low and, as a result, small businesses will continue to hoard cash as uncertainty prevails.

But there are developing markets across the rest of the world that can be tapped into. “...the rest of the world – the US, China, Asia-Pacific, the Gulf and South America – is looking more positive. British businesses need to retain flexibility and tight financial control until it is clear that we are resuming growth.”

Government needs to help

Spokesman for the Forum of Private Business (FPB), Phil McCabe, felt that avoiding a double-dip recession was crucial to ensure small businesses didn’t suffer another setback.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, McCabe felt government intervention was required, “...the Government needs to do more to reduce taxation, tackle late payment and provide targeted support, such as helping business owners with sales and marketing strategies.