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Hiscox survey: Small business optimism declines

Entrepreneurs are finding it harder to increase sales and secure financing for new ventures, the insurer said.

The survey of 3,000 businesses in the US, Germany, the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands showed that most were still having problems accessing finance despite the introduction of lending schemes.

Small business owners said they wanted tax cuts, simplified accounting rules and increased lending levels.

Thirty-eight percent of small-business owners said they were optimistic about the year ahead, compared to 48 percent a year earlier, according to the survey.

Optimism declined in all six countries, with the highest level in the US, at 50 percent, followed by Germany. The lowest level of optimism — 22 percent — was recorded in France.

Just 37 percent of respondents said that revenue increased in the last year, with the US topping the survey at 48 percent, and France and Spain relegated to the bottom, with 31 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

Small businesses are “anticipating tough trading conditions rather than expecting any early return to the boom years of the last decade”, Hiscox chief executive officer Bronek Masojada said in a statement.

Hiscox has conducted the survey for five years.

Rather than hiring, small companies are introducing new products and investing in training, Masojada said.

One in ten owners said they would increase their workforce in the coming year. Nearly one-third had developed a new product or service in the last 12 months — with the US response the lowest at 19 percent and the Spanish the highest at 39 percent.

Securing finance for new ventures is difficult, according to more than three-quarters of respondents, with only Britons saying that getting funding is easier than a year earlier.

The Bank of England's Funding for Lending Scheme, which gives banks incentives to boost loans, has increased lending to households and small businesses. Net lending under the scheme rose to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in the second quarter, the central bank said yesterday.

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Published September 04, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 03, 2013 at 8:55 pm)

Hiscox survey: Small business optimism declines

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