Be the Business Productive Business Index – Outlook for 2021

This is the first edition of a major new research programme to measure and track changes in UK micro and SME business performance and capabilities over time.

Over the past 12 months, UK micro and SMEs have made major changes to business models, innovated, and adopted technology on a huge scale. The transformation we have seen across the UK business community may have been driven by necessity and with survival in mind, but it will undeniably have an impact on business productivity and performance.

Working in partnership with Oxford Economics, we have developed a bespoke index model to track how the major investments of time and resources that have been made by SMEs change behaviour, performance and productivity.

In this first edition, which surveyed 1,500 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, we have uncovered some rich insights:

  • Business conditions have stagnated or deteriorated with almost half (47 per cent) of micro, small and medium-sized businesses experiencing a worsening of general operating conditions over the last three months
  • Businesses which generate some or all revenues from exports have been less affected by the impact of the pandemic and generally feel more optimistic about the future
  • Of five important productivity areas, management and leadership is ranked by business leaders as the most important factor in improving company productivity
  • Around half (48 per cent) of businesses say investment in technology has achieved the benefits they expected
  • Flexible working in small businesses is here to stay with 44 per cent of those who have some flexible working activities expecting it to increase in the next 12 months
  • The top three constraints to growth identified by businesses are the current economic climate, insufficient demand and competition within their sector
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