(Last Updated On: 6th September 2011)

Rain, wind, and grey skies means the Summer may be over.  The perfect time to bring you an update on Business Confidence!

The  latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton research is out for Q3 2011.

The Business Confidence Index is at its lowest level since Q3 2009 when the UK was still officially in a recession.

I thought I’d share with you the key factors behind the latest fall in Business Confidence.

Firstly, growth in turnover is down, half of businesses in the Production Industries report customer demand to be a greater challenge than 12 months ago.  In the Service Industry customer demand appears to be holding up.

Added to a fall in expectations of growth in turnover is a rise in input prices.  Businesses report input prices are 3% higher this quarter than a year ago, the highest rate of growth since Q1 2009 and a continuation of the trend of rising input costs which began in Q3 2010.  This has squeezed already tight profit margins.

Bu the more significant finding this quarter is the increasing number of business that report tax and red tape as a major challenge, with 4 in 10 believing regulation is a greater burden than 12 months ago.

It seems the Government has a way to go to convince the entrepreneurs among us that Britain is a place we want to do business.

So let’s keep taking part in the debate, by joining groups with a strong voice such as the FSB or Chamber of Commerce, and contacting local councillors and MPs to help make positive change.

With regulation and tax being a key concern for business it brings me to the importance of Advisors.

At a time when new business and growth is needed, Business Link has contracted its services.  There are no longer advisors who can give you one on one advice.  The Business Link website is still up and running and it has a wealth of useful information.  But for me, I need people.  When I feel my confidence in my business, or that of my clients, is falling, I need real people to talk to.

Which is why I’ve signed up to be a volunteer Business Mentor as part of the New Enterprise Allowance.  I’ll be taking on mentees who have been on the Job Seekers Allowance for over 6 months and who are thinking of starting their own business. My role is to help guide them over an 8 week period to write their business plans.  Then if they decide to go ahead and start their business, I will be their mentor for an additional 6 months.

I’ve also signed up to the Business Advice Service being launched by the ICAEW later this month.  As part of this service I, and other participating firms, will offer an initial consultation at no charge to SMEs and start-ups covering the full range of business issues. The ICAEW recognised the gap left behind by the closure of parts of the Business Link service and has stepped in.

During a time when business confidence is low, now is the time to seek out advisors to help ensure our businesses continue to succeed.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

I’m excited to be meeting my first mentee during the next 2 weeks.  If you’re interested in becoming a mentor then contact me and I can pass on your details.

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