The findings of a survey into the confidence of business owners in London have just been released. Conducted for Business Link in London by business-to-business market research and intelligence consultancy B2B International, the research highlights how the effect of the economic environment varies significantly by type of business, location and personal characteristics of owners.
The survey, commissioned to examine how to meet the business needs of a diverse marketplace, is the first of its kind and the ‘Diverse Business Confidence Index’ has been created to represent minority groups including women, ethnic/faith groups, the elderly, the disabled, and those of a particular sexual orientation.
B2B International director Nick Hague, in charge of the survey, says the survey uncovered perceived discrimination and prejudice in the business world. “This diverse business confidence index for BLIL is a great step in finding out how business owners are coping during the recession. Companies in the industry sectors of recruitment, property and construction have been hardest hit during the economic downturn, whilst least affected are in the health and beauty sector. As a bonus to developing such a robust index, we also gained real insight into diversity issues in business which may be mirrored across the country, not just across Greater London.”
London’s SMEs Defy Recession
As London’s small businesses bear the brunt of the recession many are still looking to grow, according to Business Link in London’s new Diverse Business Confidence Index (the Index). The first of its kind, the Index surveyed over 3,000 small businesses in London and found that 84 per cent are planning on expanding and growing their business over the coming year. Nearly two thirds of entrepreneurs surveyed said that the recession is still affecting their business with 39 per cent saying the recession has significantly impacted overall budgets and expenditure.
Patrick Elliott, chief executive of Business Link in London, said: “This Index gives a significant insight into how London’s small businesses are impacted by, and responding to, the recession. These results are an encouraging sign in these turbulent times – but they don’t come as a surprise to us. We regularly survey our clients on how they’re managing through the recession and we’re seeing a clear trend emerge of a sector that is refusing to get bogged down in the doom and gloom. But what’s telling from this index is that this confidence is across the board – many entrepreneurs across regional, industry, and demographic groups are responding to the recession by aggressively seeking out new market opportunities.”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It is extremely heartening and will inspire confidence in the strength of the capital’s economy that so many of London’s small and medium sized firms are planning to expand in the coming year. Making up nearly 99 per cent of our business sector, they create half of all the capital’s jobs and are therefore critical to its success. I will continue to do all I can to support these firms and ensure they get all the help they need to get through the downturn – they will, after all, be our spring board to economic growth and prosperity when the upturn comes.”
Maintaining and generating sales was identified as the single biggest challenge facing all businesses. However, three quarters of those surveyed remain optimistic about their business over the next twelve months. Of those who are planning to grow, most planned to drive this through diversifying their business operation – 43 per cent plan to enter new markets, and 35 per cent are looking to develop new products and services.
Start-ups were more likely to have difficulties with accessing funding while established businesses tended to have more difficulties with generating new business. A quarter of all pre-starts cited the falling value of the pound as the biggest impact and nearly half are revisiting their business plan projections as a result of the recession. However, despite being most affected by the recession, start-ups were the most optimistic about their business prospects with 89 per cent planning on growing their business over the next twelve months.
If you are a London business owner and would like to take part in future waves of the Diverse Business Confidence Index then please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, company name and London borough where your business is based.