The vital role of entrepreneurs in driving forward the North East economy has been reinforced with new figures showing growing confidence, sales and exporting success in the region’s entrepreneur-led businesses.
The Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey for the second quarter of 2013 shows that entrepreneurial businesses in the North East consistently outperform national benchmarks, with 56% of respondents indicating a growth in revenues, compared with the same period in 2012.
According to the survey, 61% felt more confident in both their own business and the economy, 50% had experienced a growth in export revenues and 53% were forecasting a rise in sales in the third quarter of the year.
The report also showed 39% saw an increase in profits, 44% expected profits to grow in the third quarter and 37% had seen employee numbers increase, with a third expecting that to continue into the third quarter.
Entrepreneurs’ Forum chairman Nigel Mills said: “Following from the results of our first quarter survey, these findings show that entrepreneurial businesses remain at the heart of growth in the North East.
“The expectations of our members are that the increasingly positive indicators of economic health within their businesses and the wider economy are here to stay, for the medium term at least.
“Whilst the latest employment figures showed the North East still having the highest levels of unemployment in the country, the entrepreneurial community is certainly playing its part in working to reduce the jobless figures, with more than a third having increased staffing during the second quarter.
“We are seeing entrepreneurs continuing to invest in their businesses, with almost half of those accessing finance doing so to purchase assets and 44% for working capital.
“It is interesting to note that this finance is coming from a range of sources, from banks and retained profits to private equity and crowd funding.
“The challenges remain in the economy, but overall we are seeing positivity through our members and it is such attitudes and perceptions which will help to drive businesses forward.”
The findings come just after a wide range of regional initiatives in celebration of Global Entrepreneurs’ Week. A recent survey from EY also showed 24% of entrepreneur-led firms in the North achieved growth in turnover over the past year, compared to 19% in London and the South, 17.1% in Scotland and 12% in the Midlands.
Chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, James Ramsbotham, said: “It is great to see this sort of optimism from the region’s entrepreneurs and it very much tallies with what we have seen in NECC’s own Quarterly Economic Surveys. We have seen an undoubted rise in business positivity in 2013 and, like the Entrepreneurs’ Forum study, our members have reported a distinct rise in sales and orders, increased investment in their businesses and renewed optimism in recruitment.”
The key barriers to growth highlighted in the Business Tracker survey included finding quality staff and accessing finance.