Belfast tops tables for small business growth potential

Small businesses in Belfast on average, expect their business to grow by 41% over the next 12 months, outperforming the wider economy, which is currently growing at 2% according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Tuesday, 21st November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:36 am
A true and real renaissence is happening in Belfast according to entrepreneur Steve Pette of Ormeau Baths

That’s just one finding of a new report released today by Square, which surveyed 1,200 small business owners nationwide.

The report created a ranking of cities based on their growth potential for small businesses, looking at regional differences including business confidence levels, growth expectations, technology adoption and infrastructure.

Belfast came out on the top, with Nottingham and Cardiff in the runners-up spots. The UK’s capital city, London, appeared 10th out of the 15 cities ranked.

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Small businesses in Belfast were by far the most ambitious, 71% said they are “confident” or “very confident” about the business environment, including their ability to hire, expand and invest.

Their confidence is further buoyed by a strong local community, with 65% of consumers surveyed in Belfast saying they already do, or would shop locally in the future.

Commenting on the report findings, Sarah Harvey, UK Lead for Square, said: “Much of the conversation about economic growth focuses on London and big business, but, interestingly, this research shows that it’s small businesses from all around the UK that are driving economic optimism.

“This study shows us that small business owners are feeling relatively confident about their growth potential, even during uncertain economic times.

“In part that’s thanks to the growth of technologies that level the playing field so businesses of all sizes and in all parts of the country have a fighting chance of success.”

Emma Jones MBE is the founder of Enterprise Nation, the UK’s leading small business community and campaigning voice for small business.

“This country has such an exciting culture of entrepreneurship, so I’m not surprised that this study shows SMEs to be feeling confident about their future growth,” she said.

“With the uncertain economic conditions ahead it’s more important than ever that business owners have access to the support, tools and information they need to thrive, and that as consumers, we all continue to support local and independent businesses across the UK.”

Ormeau Baths, Belfast’s new co-working space and tech community space works closely with Square to support start-ups contributing greatly to the infrastructure that allows small businesses across the city to feel they have access to the right tools to grow and expand.

“There is a true and real renaissance happening within Belfast around businesses starting, growing and scaling - the opportunity for growth is enormous,” said co-founder Steve Pette.

“It’s got great talent and attitude and people have dreams and ambitions to create more - it’s got the true grit to make things happen.

“That’s exactly why we created and opened Ormeau Baths - to act as the lightning rod for tech and digital business growth - we see this optimism daily.”