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Small business outlook remains cautious

Press release   •   Apr 30, 2013 23:44 BST

Small business outlook remains largely unchanged over the last 12-months, with the majority of business owners predicting only modest, organic growth or no change at all.

The national YouGov poll for elephant communications is part of its latest ‘small business outlook’ series, which tracks annual continuity or change in the relationship between confidence, growth and marketing activity in the SME sector. The findings reveal no real change in the proportion of businesses that expected to grow, stand still or decline over the last 12-months.

Overall, 6% of small business owners predicted significant expansion over the next six months, a mood most noted in London (10%), compared to 5% this time last year. A further 30% expected a period of modest organic growth, slightly down from 33% at the start of May 2012.

More than two in five small businesses (43%) expected no change for their business in the next six months (compared to 43% last year), whilst 8% planned to scale down and 11% predicted they would struggle to survive.

When asked what they had done in last six months to generate business growth, the most common courses of action included: updating the business website (37%), being more proactive in attending business or networking clubs (24%) and 19% of respondents said they had offered discount price promotions.

Advertising and PR had not been widely employed. Only 14% had invested in an advertising campaign or a PR campaign (9%). 

Karen Waugh at elephant communications commented: “Small businesses are vital to the economy and the growth agenda, yet our research over the last year has suggested that many struggle to commit the time or resources to invest in marketing and communications. The elephant in the room is there is lot SMEs can do with marketing and communications to promote their businesses without spending much money. As part of elephant's community investment programme, we are setting aside time on a pro bono basis to deliver a series of free advice days to local small businesses, offering tips on simple and cheap things they can do to better promote their businesses themselves.”

For more details on the small business advice days scheduled for 2013 contact: The YouGov poll surveyed a representative sample of 535 business owners. Full findings from the new study will be published in elephant’s ‘small business outlook’ report later in May.

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