Based on interviews with 1,000 SMEs, the fourth Albion Growth Report sheds light on the factors that create and impede growth in post-Brexit Britain.
With 50% of Scottish businesses planning to grow their headcount over the next two years, finding skilled staff tops the list of challenges business owners face, up from third place in 2015, while lack of access to finance – one of the major problems voiced by SMEs during the recession - has fallen to 13th place from fifth last year.
On a sector basis, manufacturing companies are the most bullish about growth and the most relaxed about Brexit, and businesses are overall split on the impact of Brexit with a third (36%) thinking it will help them enter new markets and 41% expecting it to be a hindrance.
Those groups that are the least concerned about Brexit include sole traders, 56% of whom said it would have no effect on their growth potential
Over a quarter of firms would consider investment from venture capital, private equity or business angel, rising to a third among larger firms with more than five employees. On a sector basis, over half (52%) of IT and telecom firms are open to equity finance while construction trails at just 13%.
Patrick Reeve, managing partner at Albion Ventures, said: "Against a backdrop of profound change, one element that has remained reassuringly unchanged is the optimism underlying the UK’s small businesses. Firms are looking to grow their headcount and productivity is on the increase. The biggest barrier to growth, finding skilled staff, is generated by success rather than failure.
"The downside is that the economy is coming under capacity constraints at a time of considerable political uncertainty. While many of the pressures on growth we have seen in recent years have eased, the skills that enable us to compete are in short supply."
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