FSB small business survey

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More than half of businesses have resisted the worst of the recession by innovating, creating new products and services, according to a new survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and ICM.

The FSB-ICM ‘Voice of Small Business’ Annual Survey 2009 reveals that 53% of businesses introduced new or improved products and services last year, and 51% intend to continue innovating next year, showing that small businesses are keen to grow and develop, despite the tough times.

27% of the 10,000 respondents said their profitability increased over the last year and 30% said their sales volume had increased over the last financial year.

This research, the most extensive survey of the small business sector since the start of the recession, reveals that despite the difficulties they have faced over the past year, small firms are already leading the way out of recession and back into growth.

However, a third (32%) of respondents who have borrowed finance in the last year reported that they had been charged more, the vast majority saying their rates increased by more than one percentage point. Half (49%) also said they had not taken out any loans at all in the last 12 months, which could be a sign that they were put off by the prohibitive cost of finance.

Three in 10 small businesses in the survey said a cut in employers’ National Insurance would improve their economic prospects in the recession. Respondents identified growing their business (42%), employing more staff (19%) and coming up with new services and products (23%) as the key things they would invest in with the savings from a tax cut. Other uses include capital investment in the business (35%), marketing (32%) and increased wages (28%).

Another three in 10 businesses (31%) said if banks were to lend more, or more fairly, that would be key to improving their prospects.