Entrepreneurs cautiously optimistic about the future

Entrepreneurs in East Anglia are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for their businesses in 2011, with more than 80 per cent forecasting revenue growth over the next 12 months, according to the results of Deloitte’s annual Entrepreneurship UK report.

The survey reveals that around 40 per cent of entrepreneurial businesses in the region expect to generate up to ten per cent revenue growth in the coming year. More than 30 per cent forecast growth of between ten and 30 per cent, while the more optimistic businesses (15 per cent) predict growth of 30 per cent and above. Less than ten per cent of those surveyed predict zero or negative growth.

Nationally, more than 90 per cent of the UK’s entrepreneurial businesses expect to grow their revenues in the next 12 months.

When asked about the likelihood of the UK economy experiencing a ‘double-dip’ recession, East Anglian entrepreneurs were equally optimistic, with more than half (53 per cent) saying that it was unlikely, compared to 54 per cent of respondents nationally, who expect to the see the economy take a turn for the worse.

Richard Crane, partner and head of entrepreneurial business at Deloitte in Cambridge, said: “It is encouraging to see the drive and confidence of local entrepreneurs in these challenging yet fast moving times.

“The results of the survey clearly demonstrate the difference in opinion between the local marketplace and the national view when it comes to the economy and the fortunes of their businesses in 2011. It’s pleasing to see that the East Anglia regional perspective was more positive than the national view regarding a double dip recession. However, the positive outlook appears to be slightly more cautious with revenue growth expectations lower than those seen across the UK.”

According to the Deloitte survey, the cash position of local businesses is more polarised than the rest of the country. Fifty-one per cent of respondents in East Anglia are actively stockpiling cash reserves whilst only 28 per cent admitted to having less cash than this time last year. 

The survey also found that 79 per cent of entrepreneurial businesses in the region are unhappy with the level of support from the government.

Looking at the time frame when business owners expect to see an exit, East Anglian expectations are behind the national average, highlighting the lack of willing buyers and difficulty in agreeing sale prices. Additionally, there is a higher likelihood of family owned and managed businesses in East Anglia to retain ownership, with no expectation of looking for an exit.

Keith Willey, entrepreneurship expert and associate professor at London Business School, said: “Entrepreneurs are never happy standing still, so for many this year must feel especially frustrating.  A year ago, people seemed to be looking for some kind of turning point that would allow them to make necessary decisions to either go for growth or prepare for worse conditions.  Instead it seems uncertainty remains for many.

“It is likely entrepreneurs will continue to ‘proceed with caution’ and are not going to get caught up in any sudden waves of optimism or indeed pessimism.  Everything we know about the entrepreneurial sector though tells us that they will be in the vanguard as and when conditions improve and many will draw guidance from the views of their peers.”

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