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SMEs stressed but optimistic

SMEs remain positive despite feeling stressed and suffering sleepless nights, research from Hiscox suggests.

The study, which surveyed 3,000 businesses in total-500 each in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain-is the fourth annual study into 'the DNA of entrepreneurs'.

According to Hiscox, an average of 48 per cent of respondents feel optimistic about the year ahead for their business, compared to 27 per cent that are feeling pessimistic. This comes despite 31 per cent of respondents reporting sleepless nights due to the stress caused by tough trading conditions.

Surprisingly, the survey found that UK businesses spend the least number of hours-an average of 96 minutes- dealing with red tape each week, compared to German businesses that spend 160 minutes each week battling with regulation. The overall average was 125 minutes.

The research also found that the majority of SMEs are displaying resilience, as most reported an increase in new customers, while 75 per cent hope to avoid redundancies or even recruit. But outside influences are taking their toll, as 52 per cent of respondents reported that customers are paying them later, leading to cashflow problems.

Commenting on the research, Bronek Masojada, CEO at Hiscox, commented:

"Our fourth annual study of SMEs confirms what we know from working closely with them: they consider and manage a wide variety of local, national and global risks everyday while keeping faith in their values and ambitions.

"There is intense debate about how to secure an economic revival, but everyone agrees that small and medium sized businesses will be at its heart."