Sara’s Blog: UK small business increasingly confident and second Peer Networks launch

I start with a welcome note of optimism this week with a survey of UK small businesses illustrating that are increasingly confident in their ability to grow and power the economic recovery, although many still have fears about the ongoing impact of Covid restrictions. This welcome news comes according to new data published today by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in partnership with Funding Circle, the UK’s largest small business loan platform.

The survey of more than 1,000 firms, almost all SMEs, reveals the majority (63 percent) are emerging from lockdown with either concrete plans or intentions to grow their business over the next 12 months. The manufacturing sector (68 percent) is particularly optimistic, while 58 percent of the hardest hit business-to-consumer (B2C) firms such as hospitality, catering and retail still anticipate growth. By the end of the year, 91 percent of businesses expect to have fully restarted, with only 1 percent not expecting to restart for the foreseeable future.

For many, the biggest barriers to reopening are Covid-related, such as the risk of further lockdowns (cited by 38 percent of respondents) or social distancing requirements (cited by 37 percent). Concerns, inflation pressure and recruitment difficulties are topics that we are hearing about more and more as we talk to Members and the business community, and there are still issues about getting investment and loans.

While the road to recovery will not be straightforward, it is great to see SMEs are looking towards the future with such optimism.

We are always interested in what our Members are thinking – and we are picking up some great conversations on issues from our new Members’ platform, the Virtual Members’ Lounge, so log on and catch up through our new website!

Another great way to share experiences and meet like-minded business colleagues is through our Peer Networks programme, in partnership with the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub.

Participants meet up in cohorts, of between eight and 11, with a fully trained facilitator. Together, participants discuss strategic and operational challenges and work together to find practical solutions – it’s your issues that are discussed and solutions found by sharing experiences and ideas. The programme is fully funded with a commitment of 21.5 hours from participants, including three and a half hours of one-to-one coaching.

This is our second Peer network and we have had great feedback on the quality of the sessions and the value of connections made.  I am confident that this latest programme will prove to be just as engaging and beneficial.

If you are interested in attending the next Peer Networks programme, please contact Richard Brace

If you want to talk to us about any business issues,  including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

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