Nearly half of Irish SME Business Owners believe Fine Gael to be the most pro-business party.
The main barriers to growth for 2016 have been identified as: Rising Labour Costs; Access to Credit; Availability of Suitable Premises and Suitability Qualified Staff.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our BCI Spring 2016 Business Sentiment Survey. We are delighted to share with you the broad views of the Irish Business Community about the things that matter most to you…In the run up to the general election, what does a pro-Irish SME business government look like? Is the outlook for the trading year ahead positive among businesses across the country? What are the main inhibitors to growth and how do we address these?
So here’s what you said:
Your views may well have changed following Monday night’s live debate but in a comprehensive survey of 127 SME’s from a cross-section of industries across 21 counties, a staggering 61% of Irish SME Business Owners stated they would like to see Fine Gael lead the next government, while fewer than one in five opted for Fianna Fáil and just over 7% for Labour.
Nearly half of the Irish Business Owners polled also believe Fine Gael to be the friendliest party to Irish Businesses, with Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats polling lowest in this regard.
In terms of a coalition, over 42% believe that our country and economy should be left in the safe hands of the current Fine Gael / Labour government to keep the recovery going, with the second most popular choice being a Fine Gael / Fianna Fáil coalition at 22% – an option supposedly ruled out by both party leaders.
These results highlight the somewhat contrasting views of Ireland’s SME Business community compared with the general population. While support for Fine Gael has dropped 2 percentage points to 26% in the latest general Red C opinion poll conducted on behalf of the Irish Sun, our results highlight the fact Business owners have much more confidence that the traditional parties, and Fine Gael in particular, will best serve the needs of our SME’s, who employ 68% of the workforce.
More than half of those surveyed, 52%, also worry about the damage a Brexit could do to business, fearing increased prices, damage to exports, cross-border trade, currency fluctuations and a negative impact for tourism.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we are big fans of the Clinton’s with 70% favouring Hilary as the next US president, while just 5% favoured the controversial Mr Trump.
Business Outlook for 2016….
Some 65% of Businesses were profitable last year. The outlook for 2016 is looking positive with 91% expecting to be at least as or more profitable in 2016, with half of those surveyed also expecting to hire more staff this year.
Rising labour costs, access to credit, VAT and availability of suitable premises and staff are named as the biggest barriers to growth among our SME business community.
A majority 57% of companies had to wait over 30 days to get paid by customers and clients which led to a massive 69% of owners calling on Government to introduce legislation for mandatory payment within 30 days across the private sector, similar to what is already in place for semi-states.
It’s clear that in an increasingly competitive and demanding market Irish SMEs need help to remain competitive and profitable. Our survey shows there are still numerous barriers to growth and we need Government thinking to reflect this – including keeping a close eye on the potential of rising labour costs which will hit the bottom line, affect ability to trade and ultimately cost jobs. Banks are still slow to give credit and finance to companies according to our survey and there’s the ongoing problem for companies in getting paid – we need to look at legislation to counteract this.
The Value of Social Media in Business…
Social media usage for business is high at 69%, but confidence in its powers is low. Almost a quarter don’t use it at all, and 58% said it was overrated compared to traditional lead generation and marketing methods.
We are slow to adopt the newer social media platforms, with Facebook still the most favoured tool among the business community at 61% followed by LinkedIn (22%) and Twitter (7.4%).
What is worth noting is that half of those polled stated that less than 10% of their business comes from social media.
This reiterates the point that while social media can be a hugely important strategy for many businesses, particularly B2C, it’s not necessarily relevant for all. It’s important to understand your target market and how best to reach them. Even more importantly, know your numbers! How good are your sales team at dealing with the enquiries social media and other methods of marketing generate? Are they converting? Could your sales process be better? While we are not ruling social media out, there are lots of easy ways to increase your sales and generate healthier profits before going down the line of investing a huge amount time and resources in social media marketing. Get the basics right first.
So, has your opinion being reflected above? Please comment to let us know your views…