Our survey of entrepreneurs was extended to include responses received by colleagues in firms from our global network, Nexia International, providing data from 22 countries around the world and allowing us to see how the UK business environment and the attitude of UK entrepreneurs differs from the rest of the world.
The survey reveals that UK entrepreneurs are more confident than those in other countries in achieving their business objectives over the next 12 months, despite the economic uncertainties created by Brexit. As in previous years, our survey shows that entrepreneurs are naturally optimistic and see opportunities in the most challenging of times.
Confidence compared to last year
Compared to the previous year, entrepreneurs from other countries have seen more of an improvement in their level of confidence. In the UK market, the number of respondents who are “more confident” only marginally exceeds the number who are “less confident”, which therefore presents a fairly similar overall picture to the previous year.
The high level of business confidence in the UK is also reflected in the hiring intentions of UK entrepreneurs, who report more of an appetite for increasing headcount when compared to those in other countries.
Achieving business objectives
Customer relationships and finding staff with the rights skills were the two most important factors in each of the countries surveyed.
However, interestingly, the UK was the only country to rank staffing as the number one issue. This underlines the challenges facing UK businesses as a result of skills shortages in many sectors, which is often addressed by relying on overseas labour coming to the UK – something that cannot be taken for granted after the UK leaves the EU.
An interesting finding from the country by country analysis was that the US would appear to the easiest place to secure funding but had the highest proportion of respondents highlighting supply chain issues as a challenge.
Most likely exit scenario
One third of global entrepreneurs have no idea what their exit scenario might be. Only 20% of UK entrepreneurs were similarly uncertain – suggesting that more thought is given to this important matter in the UK. Indeed, only the US seem to be better prepared for an exit event, with just 13% having no idea what their most likely exit scenario may be.
In the UK, a trade sale was cited as being the most likely exit scenario (33% of respondents), with family succession, a management buy-out or a sale to private equity being far less likely (with the number of respondents selecting these options ranging from 10%-17%).
Ambitions for the development of the business
When we asked respondents to comment on their personal ambitions in terms of national and international expansion, the results were similar. However, UK entrepreneurs were more inclined to look beyond their local area for expansion opportunities.
We asked respondents to tell us which international markets were of most interest to them. Of those UK companies looking to expand overseas, 41% were considering Europe, 23% North America and 18% Asia.
A pattern that emerged from the survey was that global entrepreneurs looking at international markets demonstrated a clear preference for countries based on geographic proximity or a common language. For example, the Spanish were interested in South America as well as the rest of Europe and the South Africans expressed a preference for other African markets. Entrepreneurs in the US showed the most ‘global’ outlook when considering international markets.
Attitude to risk
As in our last survey, it is evident that UK entrepreneurs do not operate a ‘high risk’ approach to business, despite often having naturally optimistic personalities. We were interested in how this might compare with a global population of entrepreneurs – in particular the US, where there is a perception that an entrepreneurial culture is more prevalent. In fact, the results were very similar.
Government support for entrepreneurs
Asking entrepreneurs around the world to highlight what they wanted their country’s government to do to help them achieve their business objectives highlighted some interesting themes. Firstly, the UK offers a favourable tax environment for entrepreneurs and there is therefore less of a call in the UK for the government to provide further tax incentives. Secondly, the UK’s skills shortage is considered to be such a challenge that the UK entrepreneurs surveyed see far more of a need for government intervention than in other countries.
Working with Saffery Champness
The entrepreneurs we work with appreciate the fact that we share their passion and energy for business. We understand their drive to maximise enterprise value and we take time to consider the personal and commercial goals that motivate them.
A core part of our offering to our entrepreneurial clients is a tax advisory and compliance service that ensures that everything they do, whether in their businesses or when looking at their private and family wealth, is planned and structured to be as tax efficient as possible, without ever losing sight of their immediate or longer term commercial and broader personal objectives.
Our partner-led approach means that one of our partners is always available to offer valuable strategic advice, alongside the everyday work that business owners expect from their accountancy advisers.
By getting to know our clients well, we can advise them according to their individual aspirations, whether that be to prepare for sale, provide for their families or create an environment that allows them to continue working in the business for many years to come.
For more information on how we work with entrepreneurs or to contact one of our expert team, please visit our entrepreneurs page.