THE region’s entrepreneurs are 10 times more likely to be driving growth than the general business population, according to surveys.
Despite the challenges, North East companies are still driving growth, making profit and creating jobs, especially those for whom the UK is a primary market.
This is according to the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Business Tracker Survey, which shows that its members are dramatically outperforming both local and national benchmarks.
At least one other regional survey has shown much more modest gains by the general North East business community.
Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “Entrepreneurs have a growth agenda, whereas others may have a survival agenda.
“The fact that our members’ businesses are growing at a higher rate than the economy at large shows they are finding ways through the barriers, are becoming more efficient to counter the pressure on prices and have positioned themselves to capitalise on the opportunities that are out there.
“It’s all about confidence and having a positive attitude. There are dangers and you have to be willing to accept a degree of risk, but the private sector was called upon to drive the economy forward and entrepreneurs in this region have certainly taken up that challenge.”
He said the keys to growth included focusing on incremental gains, closely watching cost control, cash flow and profit, improving processes, investment in technology and marketing, and productivity gains by investing in people.
However, finding staff with the right skills remains a key challenge. According to the survey, 62% of respondents were sustaining salaries at previous levels while a third were increasing wages, suggesting that employers are working to retain the good staff they have.
While the lack of readily available finance continues to be reported nationally, finance was not proving to be a barrier for half of those taking part in the survey. However, a fifth said it was becoming harder to draw on available finance.
Mills said future forum events would tackle the specific challenges entrepreneurs were facing such as how to remain competitive in all markets home and abroad, attracting the best people, maximising the reach of social media and access to finance.