Rays of sunshine: small businesses hopeful about 2013

Almost half of more than 2,000 small businesses surveyed expect to grow moderately in the coming year, while around 7.5% are anticipating rapid growth. Just under one in four think they will remain about the same size.

The feel-good sentiment echoes separate research we reported earlier this month that found more than half of all business owners are expecting growth in 2013.

The overall FSB Small Business Index, which measures quarterly confidence among small businesses, fell 1.1 points against the third quarter of 2012, to -5.6 - but the good news is that that's still 18.8 points higher than Q4 2011, and significantly higher than the same period in 2010.

So who's set to thrive in 2013? The sectors feeling most confident are personal services, business services and financial services, in that order.

Sadly, but not all surprisingly, the sectors that rely on discretionary spending are feeling least confident about growth in the year ahead: the hotels, restaurants, bars and catering sector is most worried, followed by sale, maintenance and repair of motor vehicles; then real estate activities.

The wider UK economy is still the number one threat to growth for small businesses in the UK - almost two thirds of companies surveyed cited it as an obstacle - followed by weak consumer demand.

In brighter news, access to finance seems to be improving for all of you. Although fewer small firms applied for finance in the final quarter of this year, a higher proportion of those that did were accepted: 49.3%, up from 42.8% in Q3 2012. Which is good news, considering one in three small businesses are hungry for investment to fuel growth in the coming year.

Want to grow in 2013? Check out our advice on:

Image: David Reber's Hammer Photography

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