Thursday, August 7th, 2003
The July survey sought views on job satisfaction, the EU campaign on business opportunities, long term strategy, investment plans, starting a business, risk management procedures, filling key positions, attracting and retaining staff, the impact of the weather, current use of email and payment extensions.
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About the respondents
170 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:
|Production & Manufacturing
|< 1 M
|Number of Full-time Employees
1. The aspect of job satisfaction that we looked at this month was that of remuneration. Although only 3% could say that they were very satisfied, 25% are satisfied and 29% feel neutral about it. 43% find themselves either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. The question addressed the present level of remuneration. Many will be looking ahead to grow their businesses - see the responses to question 3 on long term strategy, and to question 5 on starting a business.
2. With ten new members lined up to joint the EU in May 2004, the European Commission has launched a pan-European campaign to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) take advantage of EU enlargement business opportunities. However 83% of respondents were not aware of this campaign, 13.5% were only slightly aware and only 3.5% had any higher level of awareness.
3. Respondents were invited to choose as many responses as applicable to our question on long term strategy because the choices given were not mutually exclusive. We received 207 responses in total from 170 respondents. It should be born in mind that respondents may have considered 'long term' differently from each other, depending on where they are in their business life, but 37% of responses were for rapid growth and 26% for gentle growth. 21% intend to sell the business as a going concern.
4. 25% of venture capitalists expect economic conditions to improve over the next 6 months. Reassessment of plans for investing in plant and equipment is only being carried out extensively by 7% of respondents, with 8% doing some fairly extensive re-planning and 24% to a lesser extent. 42% are not reassessing at all.
This broadly reflects what Business Advisers have experienced. In the parallel UK Business Advisers Barometer survey (UKBAB), we asked 'Are you seeing an increase in the number of clients seeking advice on investment in Plant and Equipment?' 24% reported an increase, but 71% reported no change and 5% reported a decrease.
5. 79% of respondents, speaking from their own experience, would recommend starting a business as a good career move
6. In spite of the large majority who would recommend starting a business, 54% feel that current conditions are worse or significantly worse for starting a business than 5 years ago. On the other hand 19% think that conditions have improved. The same question was asked in the UKBAB and 37% felt there have been improvements, while 33% felt conditions have worsened.
7. It is reported that employers are finding it very difficult to attract and retain staff with the right skills. 27% of respondents have had to fill key positions with candidates lacking the right experience, either frequently or fairly frequently, while a further 20% had to do so sometimes.
8. "Fraud is a significant risk and many small businesses don't even consider it." 41% of respondents feel that they have appropriate risk management procedures in place . while 35% are neutral about it. 24% either have little or no appropriate risk management procedures against potential fraud.
9. There are several well known theories on what motivates staff. This question allowed multiple responses and received 766 in total - an average of 4 ½ per respondent. The top scoring factor was salary, but this was followed by interest in the job and working conditions. Job security came 4th and private medical insurance was lowest in popularity.
10. At the time of asking this question, it seemed that we were likely to be having a typical British summer. The vast majority of responses were submitted before the extreme heatwave of early August 2003. Under normal summer conditions therefore, 18% believe that productivity increases either significantly highly or highly, but 46% believe it is lower and 5% significantly lower.
11. Junk email and spamming are becoming more significant to many individuals and businesses. 50% of our respondents are not at all discouraged from using email, but the remainder were spread on the degree of discouragement they feel. The same question in the Business Advisers Barometer survey produced a figure of 58% that were not discouraged at all from use of email, again with a spread of the remainder over different levels of discouragement.
Although smaller businesses are likely in general to have less resilience to cope with extending payment dates, our survey revealed that 11% entertain requests for extensions either frequently or fairly frequently, and only 34% do not entertain such requests at all.
Listed below are extracts from feedback received in Survey
BB62 July 2003.
Comments are listed under sector headings.
Views expressed are those of individual panellists and may not represent those
of the University.
Production and Manufacturing
- The future anticipated EU rules that will ultimately apply to Small Bus. will stifle up to 40-50 worker companies. We now HAVE to have a full time accountant/office manager and soon a h & Safety person!!! as well. Dangerous running own company due to compensation (encouraged) culture. Soon to shut one website due to Blind access law.
- questions on perception of future prospects for uk/world economy may prove interesting for you. We believe that the uk is actually in recession but no-one is admitting it.
- The EU initiative on expansion business for SMEs is ludicrous given their own contract letting practice. The idea that new buyers in Eastern Europe are going to give work to more than a handful of highly specialised foreign SMEs is a joke.
The problem with the motivation of staff question is that the important factors vary radically with age, education, skill set, level etc.
The only reason that conditions for start up have improved is that interest rates are lower on borrowed capital.
- Question 5: Given your own experience would you recommend starting a business as a good career move if asked?
My answer to Question 5 is Yes, but success does depend on what market one is in (e.g I would not recommend anyone starting a new engineering or printing business), and what products and services one has to offer.
- Survey always make me stop & think - questions pertinent to my business about 75% of time which is pretty good.
- The Nature of my business is such that it is very important to make sure the motivation for doing the job coincides with the ethics and customer care required to be recommended to the next client, or other organizations
- I think your questions are very valid and I'm encouraged by the fact that someone is t last, asking what really matters to the small businessman. There are ver few places that businesses of my size can go for support and encouragement and when you consider that over 90% of businesses in this country are made up of companies employing less than 20 people - it's about time that someone took the governing bodies to task and made them realise that it's the small business that's the 'backbone' of our economy. I have tried on many occasions at Chamber and other meetings, to bring this to the attention of 'the powers that be, but it always falls on deaf ears.
- Re the question on junk email, it is a huge problem. It doesn't detract from me using it, as it is crucial to my business, but it is a big, big problem.