Research conducted by Sage in December 2016 revealed that political uncertainty, both globally and locally, was the most pressing cause of concern for almost half of Irish small and medium-sized businesses (45%), going into the new year.
Additional information on separate page. Despite these concerns, Ireland was open for business and preparing to increase trade, with 53% of businesses planning to increase their export activity in 2017. Confidence was high, with 97% of Irish business owners saying they are either fairly or very confident in their businesses, 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 had grown in the last 12 months: 57% reported growth in turnover on the previous year.
- According to businesses in Ireland, the top five obstacles they face were: 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 were: exchange rates (37%); tax (36%); and inflation (28%).
- The top five political events that would have the most negative impact on businesses were 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 thought that political events will have NO impact on their businesses.
- Of all the political and economic changes in 2016, Brexit was believed be the most challenging, with 50% of respondents saying that they believed it would have a negative impact on their business. 44% considered fluctuations 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 better 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.”