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Small businesses cautious as they enter 2019

The mood amongst the small business community at the start of 2019 is cautious, according to the latest report from the Small Firms Association (SFA). Just under 60pc of SFA members feel that the business environment is improving, down slightly from 62pc a year ago.

The SFA’s ‘Business Sentiment Survey’ is based on responses by SFA member companies, each of which have less than 50 employees.  The firms operate across all sectors of the economy.

Difficulties in attracting staff, Brexit, and rising business costs have been identified as risks to small firms in the coming year. Despite the slight decline in confidence, two-thirds of survey respondents indicated their intention to recruit and invest in their businesses over the coming year.

“2018 has been a challenging year for small business,” Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA director, said. “The confident mood of a year ago has eased a little on account of Brexit and the tightening labour market. Nevertheless, the Irish economy remains in a strong position and this is confirmed in our members’ feedback that domestic economic growth offers the biggest opportunity in 2019.”

Overall and 51pc of respondents said that their companies are growing. “The fundamentals of the Irish economy are strong and economic growth and job creation are forecast to continue in 2019,” Mr Spollen-Behrens added.

“However, Brexit poses one of the biggest challenges faced by small businesses in years and the SFA will remain focused on preparing members for the opportunities and risks to their businesses.”