ECI Growth Survey 2011

“It's good news that despite a tough few months, nearly three quarters of the SMEs surveyed by ECI are looking to recruit over the next year and half expect to see substantial profit growth in that period. Up and down the country, it is Britain’s SMEs that are driving our economic recovery,” says Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise

Despite the turbulence in the wider economy, the UK's small businesses are highly confident about their prospects over the next 12 months, with the vast majority of CEOs forecasting strong growth.

According to the latest research from UK private equity firm ECI Partners, 79% of the SME CEOS surveyed expect to see turnover growth of more than 6% over the next year, while 60% forecast double-digit turnover growth and nearly a third predict growth of over 20%. Overall, the 2011 respondents are even more bullish about growth expectations than last year.

Prospects for job creation are equally strong, as 74% of CEOs expect to add to their firm's head count, and more than 50% forecast growth in employee numbers of more than 6%. Last year only 30% of respondents expected similar levels of employment growth. This year's figure comes despite predictions of falling private sector employment from media commentators and economists. In fact private sector employment has already grown by more than 500,000 over the last 12 months, according to ONS data.

The positive outlook is detailed in ECl's second annual Growth Survey, which questioned close to 250 chief executives of UK growth companies (those with a turnover between £10m and £200m) about their expectations, aspirations and growth strategies for the year ahead. This size of company employs more than 7.5 million people, accounting for more than one third of private sector jobs in the UK.

To read more, click here to download a PDF of the full report.