Innovating for growth
A new air of confidence pervades our seventh annual DNA of an Entrepreneur Report. Nearly two-thirds of the small businesses we spoke to are optimistic about the year ahead – they are innovating, expanding and exporting with real success. Where last year's report showed encouraging signs of recovery, this year's shows a genuine sense of buoyancy in many of the countries we surveyed.
We see this first-hand from the 268,000 small businesses we insure worldwide, who together have a turnover in excess of £42 billion. Combined, our small business customers have increased turnover by 18% year-on-year through a combination of hard work and determination.
Innovation is a particularly prominent theme this year. The rate of new products and services launched by small businesses has picked up markedly in the past year - and is set for further acceleration in the coming year. This is particularly heartening given that the part that small and medium-sized businesses have to play in global innovation is well chronicled. They are a nursery for new ideas. With the freedom to pursue innovations that might never be sanctioned in a bigger company, small businesses consistently generate a disproportionately large number of the new patents granted globally each year and as that continues so does the chance that today's micro-business becomes tomorrow's top corporation.
Of course, not all in the garden is rosy. Many smaller companies still feel swamped by government bureaucracy, crippled by high taxation and constrained by inflexible labour laws. Policymakers should take heed. Small businesses are an important growth engine and in the current economic climate must be encouraged by what is possible rather than dissuaded by red tape.
Our findings gauge the hopes and fears of the small business sector, lay bare its biggest concerns and set out its agenda for supportive change. from the small businesses we insure worldwide, we know that the people we cover are as important as the businesses. Understanding their challenges, opportunities, wants and needs helps us to provide the products and services they need – both now and in the future. In the same vein, our hope is this report is also valuable for others involved in supporting, analysing or nurturing the vital small business community.
Chief Executive Officer, Hiscox