Member Survey

Every quarter we survey our members to get real insight into what’s happening in the business community in the North East. We ask about key topics including business confidence, growth, barriers to growth, people, sales and exit plans. 

May 2024


• Optimism is the highest since our survey began in 2022, with 88% of respondents feeling optimistic or very optimistic about their future business prospects for the next 12 months.

• Growth predictions remain strong with 83% expecting turnover growth this year and more members expecting to hire staff. Growth is predominately expected from expansion in their existing markets but over half (56%) are innovating and have plans to introduce new products or services this year.

• Nearly one fifth of respondents (18%) are planning to make acquisitions this year with 25% expecting to raise external finance within 12 months.

• For 44% of members, the biggest challenge is people. As noted in previous surveys, finding and retaining good people is an ongoing issue. Members are reporting candidates have high salary demands that don’t necessarily match their skills. There’s ongoing poaching of staff within the region which is putting upward pressure on salaries.

• Pressures on sales and cashflow have reduced this quarter which is consistent with improved business confidence.

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March 2024


• Optimism remains very high amongst members with 83% either optimistic or very optimistic about the next 12 months. This is backed up with 75% saying they expect to grow their turnover and 59% expecting to grow headcount.

• Nearly half (44%) of members are having sales challenges and most commented that they were finding the sales cycle taking longer to complete than they’d expected.

•  Although nearly one third of members are still forecasting high growth greater than 20%, this number has fallen by 12% since the last pulse survey in November 2023. More members are saying growth will be in the 0-20% range.

• There’s a slowing down in recruitment with 39% of members saying they’ll keep headcount steady this year, rather than grow.

• 79% of members believe it is important to be an inclusive employer and 54% have taken action in the past 12 months to educate themselves about equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). 78% already have an firmwide policy on EDI.

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November 2023


• 83% of respondents are optimistic or very optimistic about their business prospects for the next 12 months. This is up from 77% reported last quarter and 73% reported in November 2022. This gives confidence in the regional economy to navigate challenges by political and economic uncertainty.

• Optimism is backed up with expected growth in revenue for the next 12 months with 41% reporting they expect to grow by more than 20% - this is up from 30% in the last quarter and therefore evidences optimism. Overall 78% of our respondents said they were anticipating to grow in the next 12 months.

• Members are hiring staff with 58% saying they have plans to hire in the next 12 months, and nearly a quarter (24%) saying they will increase their overall headcount by more than 20%. These are broadly in line with our findings last quarter.

• In this survey we asked about members plans to raise external finance to fund their growth plans and found that 40% of respondents said they were planning to raise finance – of which 28% will do so in the next 12 months.

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August 2023


• Optimism levels remain high with 77% reporting feeling either optimistic or very optimistic about their business prospects in the coming 12 months.

• Revenue growth is expected to come primarily from existing markets (83%).

• Recruitment is a priority with 60% of businesses reporting plans to increase headcount in the next 12 months.

• 17% of members are considering acquisition to grow their businesses, whilst 18% are looking at international expansion.

• The biggest challenge remains building a great team to support growth ambitions. Over half of entrepreneurs said they found managing people to be a barrier to growth.

• Founders are in no rush to exit their businesses with only 8% looking for an exit within 3 years. Over half have no plans at all to exit.

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