Research conducted by Sage in December 2016 revealed that political uncertainty, both globally and locally, is the most pressing cause of concern for almost half of Irish small and medium-sized businesses (45%) facing into the new year.
Additional information on separate page Despite these concerns, Ireland is open for business and preparing to increase trade, with 53% of businesses planning to increase their export activity during 2017. Confidence is high, with 97% of Irish business owners saying they are either fairly or very confident in their business, and 68% of those surveyed stating that they plan to grow their business in the next three years.
Among the other key findings are:
- More than half of businesses have grown in the last 12 months: 57% reported growth in turnover on the previous year.
- According to business in Ireland, the top five obstacles they face are: competition (44%); taxation (34%); cash flow (32%); employing and retaining talent (24%); and Brexit (24%).
- Business said that the main issues hurting them right now are: exchange rates (37%); tax (36%); and inflation (28%).
- The top five political events that will have the most negative impact on business are considered to be: Brexit (50%); changes in the Euro (44%); Irish Government changes (26%); currency fluctuations (22%); and the results of the US elections (19%). Note, interestingly, 17% of businesses think that political events will have NO impact on their business.
- Of all the political and economic changes in 2016, Brexit is believed be the most challenging, with 50% of respondents saying that they believe it will have a negative impact on their business. 44% consider fluctuation in the Euro to be a negative impact risk.
Jacqueline de Rojas, MD, Northern Europe, Sage added: “A gear change is urgently needed on digital to maximise trading opportunities both at home and exporting overseas. 68% of the businesses we surveyed are currently not equipped to sell online. Embracing technology and the cloud will help these businesses negotiate the changing landscape whatever changes a post-Brexit world brings.”
Eamonn O’Brien, Founder, The Reluctant Speakers Club and Sage Business Expert added: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the Irish economy so it’s really heartening to see that the majority of entrepreneurs in Ireland (73%) are happy to be their own boss and would not change from being self-employed to being an employee in someone else’s business.”