Data from a Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey suggests growth aspirations across the small business community are now back at pre-pandemic levels.
The latest FSB Small Business Index found that 54% of the 1,271 UK small firms polled expect to grow in 2022. This figure was four percentage points higher than the equivalent proportion of businesses forecasting growth during the final quarter of 2019 when the pandemic had yet to impact commercial activity.
However, while small firms are looking to grow, the survey also found that skills shortages and increasing cost burdens could ultimately hold them back. In total, 33% of surveyed firms said a lack of appropriately skilled staff represents a substantial barrier to growth, while 78% stated that operating costs were rising, a seven-year high for this particular question.
Commenting on the findings, FSB National Chair Mike Cherry, said, “After two years of turmoil, in which firms have once again shown their adaptability and resilience, the small business community stands ready to spur our economic recovery. Their optimism is, however, hampered by spiralling inflation, labour shortages and looming tax grabs. The growth intentions are there, but we need the right support to turn vision into reality.”