Issues concerning working capital and supply chains have emerged in the Spring Pulse Check, with members flagging problems with orders, disruptions and payments.
Difficulties with supply chains, imports and exports have been due to port and shipping disruptions but despite the challenges, members are proactively planning their future after a year which saw most business owners change the way they operate. Some have opted for digital transformation, others increased marketing spend while still more reduced their costs and, in doing so, increased profits.
The Spring Pulse Check found that overall, confidence and optimism remain high and job prospects steady in small-to-medium size businesses outside the hard-hit sectors of retail, tourism and hospitality but there is a rise in the number of businesses having difficulty finding skilled workers.
At a personal level, business owners are exhausted – the majority would like nothing more than to switch off for a few weeks or, at the very least, have a bit of a rest, but the main reflections provided in the Spring Pulse Check have been the ‘three wishes’ they would ask of Government. These included continuing financial support, consistent policies plus a plea to give small businesses more work and greater involvement in discussions about their sector.
Stephen James observed: “Our members have flagged a number of issues and, although numbers are relatively low at present, it suggests there will be no smooth sailing into summer. Member confidence levels and optimism remain high but fatigue is setting in. Having maintained confidence and resilience through the main crisis periods, their hard work and stress is starting to take its toll.
“The ‘three wishes’ they would ask of the Government were continuing financial support, something that has been a lifeline for businesses large and small, consistent policy, so keep doing what you’re doing but do it really well and, lastly, a plea to put small businesses to work starting with less red tape and providing greater accessibility to government contracts or tenders.”
The Spring Pulse Check surveyed 269 members and associates between 30 October – 6 November with a confidence level of 90% and a 5% margin of error. You can download a copy of the results in full here.
The Alternative Board conducted the Spring Pulse Check with 269 members and associates between 30 October – 6 November with a confidence level of 90% and a 5% margin of error.