SMEs striving for growth in 2019 with half looking to increase headcount

With continuing tough economic uncertainty, UK SMEs are still eager to grow their headcount by an average of 21 per cent over the next 12 months, according to new research from business energy supplier, Opus Energy.

In spite of official figures from the ONS showing a drop in consumer spending throughout much of 2018, entrepreneurs remain positive for small business growth.

Of over 500 small business owners surveyed, over half projected to grow their business in terms of people, with some even predicting they’ll increase their workforce by 50 per cent. Specifically with IT (39 per cent), health (33 per cent) and financial services (28 per cent) are the sectors expecting the most growth.

Even in the hardest hit sectors, growth was still projected. Half of retailers still expected to grow in 2019, at an average of 19 per cent. 65 per cent of food and beverage producers expected an average headcount increase of 18 per cent and 69 per cent of manufacturers expected to grow at an average of 14 per cent, despite facing the uncertainty of Brexit and the “death of the high street”.

Younger entrepreneurs were also more ambitious when it came to growing their team, with 18 to 34-year olds expecting a headcount increase of 32 per cent. 35 to 44-year olds expected the next highest growth at 22 per cent, compared with 55 to 64-year olds who predicted growth of just 12 per cent.

Nikki Flanders, Opus Energy COO said, “While it’s always encouraging to see optimism amongst the UK’s small business community, the growth predictions may come as a surprise to some, given the current political climate and economic trends.

“However, this is another indication of the resilience of our SME business owners, who are feeling buoyant despite the economic turbulence. Small businesses are on the lookout for new talent and are offering fantastic opportunities for individuals at all stages within their career.

“By working hard to reduce the barriers and bureaucracy that prevent many SMEs from achieving success, we can play a part in enabling our UK economy to thrive.”

Flanders concluded, “At the end of 2018, British SMEs generated a staggering £2trn combined. These small businesses are essential to economic growth, so as a nation entering the New Year, we need to encourage entrepreneurialism.”