Businesses and advisers have shared their hopes and dreams for the coming year, in the first survey for 2012 of the University of Nottingham’s Barometer Project.
Among the hopes were solutions to some of the regular issues of recent times — a change in the approach to lending by banks, reductions in red tape, and changes in taxation. Economic stability and an end to the problems experienced by the Eurozone was a wish expressed by both businesses and advisers.
One respondent called for a change in our relationship with the rest of Europe hoping for “a renegotiation of membership of the EU to include a trade agreement…providing value for money membership and real advantages for businesses.“
Many respondents wanted to see greater optimism and an end to negativity — particularly from “financial commentators predicting disaster”. This general feeling was reflected in this response by business advisors: “The relentless focus of broadcast media is on the negative. It is persistently reducing the confidence in the business sector and (that of) the general public. Their propensity to publish only the negative and the sensationalising of the negative is reducing the confidence that is the currency of success.”
Consumer appetite for new products
Self confidence was the key for one contributor who advocated that companies should “get off the fence [and have] the bravery to launch more innovative products.” As another panellist observed: “Where there is a real consumer need innovative new brands can still launch successfully.”
The role of government was criticised by many who called on it to take decisive action with less of what was termed “woolly encouragement in entrepreneurship”. One panellist added: “Government [should]get behind small businesses in a concerted and meaningful way to support, train and fund growth for the future”. Business advisers too were particularly forthright on this issue — one said: “government (should) see the error of their ways and put some funding into business support again, particularly for micro and small business and the start up market.”
Another said the Government should begin dealing directly with businesses and not through the banks, which they said were having an “easy ride back at the expense of the community“.
Social media was a recurring theme for some and, in a separate question, panellists were asked if they thought that it might have a greater part to play in any economic revival.
The power of social media
The power of applications such as Twitter and Facebook has been evident during the recent political uprisings across the Middle East where Twitter networks have been established across the region. The social media revolution has led to news and events being reported and transmitted globally seconds after they occur. Will these social media applications be so powerful when it comes to creating economic growth in the UK? The majority of our panellists thought their influence would be either positive (36.5 per cent) or neutral (36.5 per cent) with a minority suggesting a negative influence (27 per cent).
The UK Business Barometer (UKBB) and the UK Business Adviser Barometer (UKBAB) provide a snapshot of how small and medium-sized businesses are coping with the current state of the economy and aim to uncover the key issues affecting the small business market. Operating over the web means that results can be rapidly generated and the surveys have unique software that enables results to be processed and posted on their respective websites immediately they arrive.
More information, including results and analyses, can be found on the web at www.ukbb.ac and www.ukbab.ac Businesses and advisers wishing to contribute as panellists on the project should visit the appropriate Business Barometer website to register.
The UK Business Barometer has a group on LinkedIn and can be followed on Twitter
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