Small to medium-sized firms are looking forward to a business boom, according to a new survey.
The report, by Albion Ventures – one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK - reveals that 61% of small to medium-sized firms plan to grow “dramatically” or “moderately” in the next two years.
Only 4% think they will shrink or wind down.
The third Albion Growth Report is designed to shed light on the factors that both create and impede growth among 1,000 SMEs.
SMEs in Yorkshire and the South East are the most confident about the future, with 66% anticipating growth over the next two years, closely followed by those in the North East (65%) and London (64%).
On a sector basis, transport and distribution businesses report the highest levels of confidence with 79% of them expecting growth.
One of their biggest concerns, however, remains shortages in skilled staff.
With two-fifths (39%) of small firms looking to increase their headcount over the following year compared to just 8% who plan to cut jobs, finding skilled staff is now the second biggest challenge they face, up from fifth place in 2014.
Those sectors most concerned about skilled staff shortages, including manufacturing, medical and health services are paradoxically among those which are most confident about their growth prospects.
Small business owners are also increasingly concerned about their shortcomings in management expertise, which has risen up their list of growth barriers from 11th to sixth place.