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Economic turbulence surprised small firms

Date 24 Sep 2007
Author The Editor
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Small firms have been caught unaware by the current unrest in the financial and housing markets, a new report suggests. The latest quarterly survey of small business in Britain, published by the Small Enterprise Research Team (SERTeam), was conducted several weeks before the US mortgage crisis started affecting British financial institutions.

Only 11% of small businesses cited the general economic climate as their main concern, according to the report, and only 6% and 2% were worried about cashflow and interest rates respectively. The top concern for small firms was revealed to be government regulations and paperwork at 23%. Lack of skills and high pay were cited as top concerns for 16% of firms with 20 or more employees.

However, the survey also revealed that Britain's small businesses are performing well overall. There was a positive annual percentage balance of sales increases over falls reported by all sectors except retailers and transport/travel firms. The report noted that a large proportion of investment by small firms has gone into renewing computers and investing in other communications applications. More than 60% of respondents bought a new computer during the past 12 months.

Professor Colin Gray, SERTeam chair, said: "Britain's small business owners are clearly coming to grips with new technologies in ways that suit their firms and their own ways of working."

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