BRACKNELL, England, January 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
- Growth In Last Six Months up Five Percent But Confidence in Wider UK Economy Takes a Hit
Britain's small businesses grew by an average of 11 per cent over the last six months, up five per cent on the last half year according to HP's SMB Index, an independent survey of 1000 UK small businesses (between 1 and 50 employees).
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HP's third SMB Index paints a slightly more optimistic picture for the UK economy - which relies heavily on growth in the SMB sector - than the last study in July 2011, with 63 per cent of respondents reporting that their business will grow in the next six months, at an average of 14 per cent.
While growth was up five per cent on 2011 there was however a small drop in short term confidence in the UK economy (down three per cent to 32 per cent). However, there was extremely positive news for the sole traders, who grew a total of eight per cent, coming back from negative growth of minus two per cent in July 2011. Businesses in the retail, distribution and transports sectors saw the most amount of growth. Construction and property companies grew the least.
"Considering the rather gloomy picture the Index painted last July, these findings are to be broadly welcomed, especially the news for sole traders," says Rebecca Shears, Head of Marketing, HP PSG UK & Ireland. "Clearly the issue around confidence in the broader UK economy is worrying but if companies like HP can continue to provide help and support for SMBs then hopefully their contribution to the broader economy will help improve the wider economic outlook."
When asked whether they seek advice and help for their business, 57 per cent of Britain's small businesses said they did, with business advice groups (51 per cent) and work colleagues (46 per cent) being the most popular sources of advice. Interestingly, for sole traders other small business owners were the most important source of help and advice, suggesting a community approach to sharing advice and best practice.
Financial management, taxation and business regulation were found to be the most needed advice topics according to the survey, and this was consistent across all sizes of business and business sectors.
Encouragingly, 50 per cent of respondents are using social media platforms such as LinkedIn and FaceBook to promote their business, Of that 50 per cent, more than 70 per cent have generated either a new business lead or actual revenue from such platforms. For the 50 per cent that do not use social media platforms, the main reason's stated were lack of value in using them (55 per cent) and lack of time to spend on them (24 per cent).
Rebecca Shears, Head of Marketing, HP PSG UK & Ireland comments; "Technology is a key driver for business growth, and the arrival of ecommerce trading sites and social networks aimed at businesses offer enhanced sales and marketing opportunities, especially for smaller companies. At HP we want to help businesses to get more out of these platforms, as the results of our SMB Index clearly show their potential value in terms of lead and revenue generation."
One issue that regularly confronts small companies when purchasing IT products - especially laptops and printers - is how much they need their 'work' equipment to double for social use. The research shows that 69 per cent of respondents use their work PC when at home with surfing the net (83 per cent) and printing documents (61 per cent) the two most regular tasks undertaken. However, listening to music (45 per cent) watching films (32 per cent) and playing games (25 per cent) are also important to a large portion of UK small business owners.
These findings, combined with the revelation that over 50 per cent of respondents feel that technology vendors and service providers could do better to ensure they are buying the correct equipment, suggests that there is a need for the industry to better explain the capabilities and benefits of specific machines relevant to customer need.
"We've seen from previous studies a trend for small businesses to over-buy for their needs," concludes Shears. "In these tough times, it's important that every penny of IT spend works as hard as it can, so clearly the industry can do more in how it positions and markets products to ensure smaller companies are investing in the most appropriate technology."
The HP Business Answers group on LinkedIn brings together a community of over 6,000 businesses to meet, greet, communicate and learn from one another. Find out more and join the community here -
Notes to editors: survey methodology
- Independent research study conducted across Q3/Q4 2011
- Conducted on behalf of HP by independent research agency Vanson Bourne
- 1000 UK SMEs questioned via web-based questionnaire
- Sample focused on small business owners and directors with IT purchasing decision within an SME sized company (1-50)
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