Optimism amongst North East entrepreneurs is at a new high, the latest Entrepreneurs’ Forum survey has revealed.
116 entrepreneurs – approximately 35 per cent of the Forum’s overall membership – responded to the latest Members Quarterly Pulse Survey which indicated a positive outlook amongst North East business owners with regards to business prospects for the next 12 months.
83 per cent of respondents shared that they are optimistic or very optimistic for the next 12 months, up from 77 per cent reported last quarter and 73 per cent reported in November 2022.
A substantial 78 per cent of respondents anticipate business growth next year with 41 per cent projecting growth exceeding twenty per cent. This will be achieved through ‘existing market growth’ (accounting for 80 per cent of responses), ‘new products and services’ (41 per cent) and ‘new models or channels’ (18 per cent).
To fund this growth, 40 per cent of respondents have plans to raise external investment of which 28 per cent intend to do so in the next 12 months. A positive trend continues with 58 per cent of respondents planning to hire in the next year with 24 per cent intending to increase overall headcount by more than twenty per cent.
These figures align with the trajectory observed in the previous quarter, highlighting sustained confidence in business expansion.
The survey, conducted independently by Explain Market Research, reiterated the challenges of the previous survey results, with the biggest challenge facing North East businesses being people related. Difficulty in recruiting skilled individuals – especially for highly specialised roles – remains a persistent problem for North East entrepreneurs.
Salary demands continue to impact hiring as are expectations for hybrid and flexible working. However, internal apprenticeship schemes have been identified as a strategy to build skilled workforces. Participants also expressed frustration with the length of time required to convert leads into sales, citing hesitancy from decision makers and tightened customer spending as issues to overcome.
Elaine Stroud, CEO of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “With a collective turnover of in excess of £1.25bn from Entrepreneurs’ Forum member businesses, these positive indicators of growth are good news for the North East economy. The results show not only the resilience of our members but also a deep sense of adaptability and forward-thinking amongst political and economic uncertainty.
“From emerging trends to common challenges, these insights are helping us in collectively shaping a brighter future for the North East and in achieving our goal in making the region a great place to be an entrepreneur.”
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