Majority of Small Firms to Recruit

4th January 2017

Posted In: FYI

The mood amongst the small business community at the start of 2017 is cautious, the Small Firms Association (SFA) found in its ‘Small Firms Outlook 2017’ survey report, published today. 50% of owner-managers feel that the business environment is improving, down from 77% one year ago and 66% in May, with 18% indicating that it is disimproving.

Patricia Callan, SFA Director, said “2016 has been a challenging year for small business. The optimism that existed at the beginning of the year has given way to a much more cautious sentiment among small businesses, due to emerging wage demands, Brexit and downward revisions of growth forecasts. Still, 52% of SFA members say their businesses are growing, with only 9% declining. This shows that 2017 still has the potential to be a strong year, if the risks are managed effectively at firm level and Government level.”

Asked what they see as the biggest opportunity for their business in 2017, domestic economic growth was highlighted by 32% of businesses. Other positive factors included specific sectorial opportunities, bringing new products to market, new brand/marketing campaigns and exporting.

64% of survey respondents indicated their intention to recruit over the coming year, down slightly from a pre-Brexit survey in May. The survey results, however, highlight a number of areas of concern for small firms to include wage inflation (#1 at 22%), Brexit/Sterling exchange rate, domestic economic stagnation and cashflow issues.

“Full tax equalisation between the self-employed and employees will remain a priority in 2017, as will access to public contracts for small firms and cost competitiveness. Investment in housing, broadband, childcare and transport infrastructure must be prioritised to ensure that Ireland remains an attractive location for investment and talent,” commented Callan.