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 maximize 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.”