The Investec Entrepreneur Confidence Index is a reliable barometer for the confidence levels of business owners. Two months ago, Investec asked some of the UK's most successful entrepreneurs -turning over £1m or more - what they thought the economy had in store for them in 2011.
Some 56% of those interviewed were optimistic about the future, stating that the UK economy would indeed improve over the next 12 months. Only 19% expected the UK economy to deteriorate next year. Moreover, 56% believe that the economic climate will represent an opportunity for them, compared to 14% who think it will be a threat.
Interestingly, despite the bashing the government has taken in the press, only 27% of entrepreneurs interviewed about the impact of government spending cuts saw it as a threat to their UK operations.
And here's a truly cheery statistic: 91% of these business owners expect the profitability of their UK businesses to increase next year, with 44% saying that it is very likely that they will launch new ventures in 2011. None - yes, that's right, none - of those interviewed expect a decline in their revenue. Either all entrepreneurs are pathological optimists, or things really are going to be okay.
But there are a few exceptions to the general buoyancy of these business owners. 56% believe that access to capital will remain difficult next year. Furthermore, the current regulatory and tax environment in the country means that 59% think it is not conducive to launching new ventures.
Hear that, Mark Prisk? Get out your shears and start slashing that red tape.
"As jobs are lost in the public sector, more emphasis will be placed on private enterprises to grow and increase their headcount," says Ed Cottrell, head of growth and acquisition at Investec. "It is in the national interest to provide them with as much support as possible to help them achieve their goals."
Eddy Ankrett, chairman of Dateline, is one business owner who sees 2011 as a year of opportunity. "There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm amongst entrepreneurs at the moment," he says. "Many see now as a great time to start a new business and build their current business. The opportunities are out there for those in the right sectors, with good management and advisors and the passion to succeed. For these people, 2011 could be a great year."