Over 50% of small business owners in Ireland feel that the government should banish the Universal Social Charge and do more to aid the self employed according to a survey compiled by Ireland's leading business networking organisation, BNI Ireland. Only 58% of business owners can presently afford to have a pension plan with the remainder saying that putting money aside for the future is a luxury they cannot afford.
The survey of more than 1,000 members gives a rare insight into the mindset of Ireland's dominant SME sector. Confidence in the future of the Irish economy has grown with almost 80% of business owners indicating an increase in turnover and 47% highlighting that they are more likely to create new jobs now than this time last year. In addition, almost three quarters of those surveyed said they have begun to invest once again in their business with the highest level of investment being given to marketing, new machinery and equipment.
When asked about the biggest challenges facing them as business owners, 31% said late payments were putting their business under pressure followed by the cost of rising utility and transport bills. Most business owners (64%) say that they now work harder than ever before to retain clients and achieve success by consciously keeping business local by availing of local suppliers.
Sandra Hart, Executive Director, BNI Ireland South and West said that the poll is a clear signal that there is a definite upturn in the economy. "We have noticed a marked increase in confidence among our members with more business being generated in the first half of this year in comparison to the same time in 2013. It is certainly encouraging to see many of our members expand their businesses and we are witnessing many who are moving to larger premises or leaving the home office to secure more urban based office space.
However, many business owners are concerned about the rising cost of utility bills and transport costs and with the introduction of water charges, a definite air of cautiousness still abounds. We hope next week's budget will encourage further growth and that the government will look at ways to incentivise Irish SME's which the economy relies heavily on."