Firms looking to increase staff and investment in 2014

SCOTTISH small businesses are planning to increase their staff numbers and boost capital investment in 2014, new figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have revealed.

The FSB’s Voice of Small Business Index, published on Monday, showed that despite business confidence taking a seasonal dip it remains much higher than it was in the same quarter of the previous three years.

In addition,the study revealed that more small firms plan to hire staff over the next three months than plan to reduce employee numbers. At the same time, 28 per cent expect to increase capital investment over the next year.

The research by the FSB also found increasing profit margins for small businesses for the first time in two years.

Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor said: “2014 will be a big year for many Scottish small business owners, not because of political landmarks or sporting events, but because they plan to take their enterprise to the next level.

“Our index shows firms are looking to grow in 2014 and that, year-on-year, Scottish small business confidence is much higher than it has been since we started collecting comparable data in 2010.”

Mr Willox added: “If Scotland is going to make the most of the recovery, we need to ensure that businesses determined to grow are backed by our banks and enterprise agencies.

“Further, too many firms highlight a difficulty hiring people with the right skills for the modern workplace.

“If we’re going to get more people back to work while growing our businesses, the country’s educational decision-makers need to do more to boost work readiness.”

The FSB’s research found that the main barriers to growth for small businesses are the domestic economy and consumer demand, but one in four businesses reported a difficulty in obtaining skilled staff.

The FSB in Scotland argues that this underlines the need for ‘educational decision-makers to redouble their efforts to get people ready for the modern workplace.