SMEs still surprisingly perky about 2009

A study suggests the majority of SMEs are optimistic about 2009, despite the prevailing gloom...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The latest Orange SMS Small Business Jury suggests that Britain’s small businesses are not throwing in the towel just yet. About 53% said they were optimistic about the coming 12 months or were expecting things to improve as the year goes on – while less than a third think they’ll find it hard to cope as the recession bites. It’s not that these businesses have a rose-tinted view of the current situation, or an unrealistic expectation about what the Government can do to help – but nonetheless, the glass-half-full outlook appears to be alive and well...

Accessing finance will continue to be a big problem for SMEs, of course. Despite the Government’s best browbeating efforts, banks are still reluctant to lend (perhaps because they’re also under pressure to boost their balance sheets) – and only one in five SMEs expects things to change for the better in 2009. Those affected just don’t seem to have much faith in Government intervention – over 70% said the VAT cut had been at best ineffectual and at worst a hindrance, while 54% said the interest rate cut had made no difference whatsoever – so even if the PM does nick the Tories’ loan insurance scheme, this may not be enough to restore confidence.

Still, with job cuts looking increasingly likely across the board (43% of respondents said they were planning to reduce headcount), the new year is clearly a time for managers to take stock and think hard about how to lead in 2009. The Institute of Leadership and Management has tried to do its bit by coming up with five ‘New Year’s resolutions for managers’ for you to implement along with your bog-standard ‘exercise more, drink less’-type January promises. ‘In the current climate of fear and uncertainty, it has never been more important to go into the year ahead with confidence and a fresh approach,’ says ILM CEO Penny de Valk.

Top of the list is to ‘act with integrity’, using honesty and authenticity to carry people with you. You should ‘dare to be different’, keeping an eye out for new opportunities. ‘Be bold’ about tackling difficult issues head-on. ‘Invest in success’ by spending money on your own (or your team’s) training. And finally: ‘Communicate to motivate’ – listen to your staff and give them lots of extra feedback and praise to keep spirits high. All of which sound sensible to us.

Of course the best thing you can do is keep your business thriving, so your team will still have a job come December. And it looks like SMEs are still optimistic that they can make this happen...

In today's bulletin:

Debenhams and Next see sales fall - and their shares rise
House prices fell at record rate in 2008
FSA lifts controversial ban on shorts
Editor's blog: Down with detox
SMEs still surprisingly perky about 2009

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