Positivity Remains Among North East Entrepreneurs

Posted on the 8 December 2014

Positivity Remains Among North East Entrepreneurs

North East entrepreneurs are reporting increased employment, sales and profits from the third quarter of 2014, according to the results of the latest survey of members of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

The latest Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey, covering the third quarter of 2014, saw positivity throughout key indicators.

Compared with the figures for the same quarter in 2013, entrepreneurs responding to the survey painted a positive picture of all aspects of business, including sales, profits, employment, wages, prices and spending. The survey is conducted and compiled by leading research specialist Acritas.

·  Overall sales: 63% reported an increase, while 18% said levels had remained the same

·  Export sales: 41% saw an increase, while 31% said a retention of Q3 2013 levels

·  Actual profit: An increase was reported by 53%, while 30% said levels were maintained

·  Employee numbers: 47% reported an increase in employment, with 42% saying levels had not changed

·  Remuneration: 46% reported an increase, 51% said levels were the same

·  Prices: 20% reported an increase, while 72% said levels had remained the same

·  Capital expenditure: An increase was reported by 46%, and 45% said levels had remained as they were

Looking forward to the fourth quarter, optimism remains high, with 70% of respondents expecting overall sales to rise, and 85% believing actual profits will increase or be maintained.

Finding and recruiting quality staff remained the number one barrier to growth identified by respondents, followed by sales and red tape. However, confidence in the economy was seen to be at its lowest level since quarter one of 2013, with only 37% of members who responded saying they were more confident than three months previously. Likewise, confidence in their own business was also down among some members, with those stating they were less confident in their own enterprise rising from 3% in quarter two to 8% in quarter three.

Nigel Mills, Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “The outlook amongst entrepreneurs in the North East is still high, as you would expect from a group of individuals whose positivity and enthusiasm is a driving force for the economy. In a quarter which included such anomalies as the Scottish independence referendum, and with a General Election on the horizon, it is to be expected that there is a slight ebb in confidence among others, but it is important to note that 87% of respondents said they were as confident in the economy or more so than previously, reflected by 92% when asked about their own businesses.

“The main challenges remain the same, in that recruitment is far and away the greatest barrier faced by our members. These are strong businesses, which are looking to grow, but that growth must be based upon bringing in people of quality, as well as quantity.”

One such business looking to grow is Business Travel, in Gateshead.

Christine Nugent, Managing Director of Business Travel, said her company was aiming to grow its £10m turnover by 50% in the next three years and has taken on two apprentices, with more recruitment to follow, bolstering its 16-strong team.

She said: “We have certainly seen issues around finding and recruiting the right staff, as the survey has shown is the case for many members, but we are confident that we will bring in good people who will help with our growth.

“Having completed a management buyout 20 years ago, it would have been very helpful to have had an organisation like the Entrepreneurs’ Forum around at the time. Even now, the support I get from the Forum is invaluable. They have put me in touch with organisations, such as GrowthAccelerator and, in lieu of having a board of directors, the mentoring service gives me a network of people with whom I can talk strategically about the things I am dealing with at any particular time.

“Working with the Forum and its members helps to make sense of things, and you realise that you’re not alone in facing the challenges of running and growing a business; everyone has the same problems, and members are brilliant at sharing their experiences and how they faced the problems which lie ahead of you.”