By Jonathan Davies

British entrepreneurs have seen strong growth in their businesses this year and are optimistic about what the future holds, according to a new EY survey.

The survey showed that 83% of entrepreneurs increased their business' headcount, with more than a quarter increasing their workforce by more than 50.

An overwhelming majority (93%) of those surveyed expect to see their turnover increase in the next three years.

EY found that three quarters of entrepreneurial businesses (75%) have seen growth in their turnover in the last year with over half (57%) witnessing a turnover increase of more than 5%. Looking ahead, over the next three years, all of the entrepreneurs surveyed expect their business to grow further, with over half (56%) expecting annual growth of over 10%. This view was especially prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry, where all of the respondents expect growth of more than 10%.

Stuart Watson, EY’s Entrepreneur of The Year UK Leader, said: “Over the past 12 months the UK’s economy has strengthened, and this is reflected in the confident mood amongst these businesses. Entrepreneurs have been recruiting in significant numbers and seeing reasonable growth over the past year. But more importantly more than half are planning ahead for double digit growth. Britain is open for business and the UK’s entrepreneurs are leading the way in terms of increasing their turnover and their headcount.”

But the continued shortage of highly skilled workers continues to worry business owners. Just 23% of the 226 entrepreneurs surveyed said they felt like they are able to attract the right talent. Fifty-four percent of those said this was down to the lack of the skills needed for the job and 20% said it was due to wage costs being to high.

EY found that businesses in the South East and South West are having the most trouble attracting talent with 63% citing a lack of skills as the core reason. In London the war for talent becomes more difficult with more than a quarter (26%) of entrepreneurs responding that they are having trouble attracting talent due to wages being too high, closely followed by too much competition (22%).

Stuart Watson said: “Overall the future looks bright for UK entrepreneurs, with many delivering strong performance in recent years, and expecting good times ahead. However, our survey highlights that while businesses are increasing headcount at a considerable rate and are expecting to grow even more over the next year, the right people may not be there to fuel that growth.

“For entrepreneurs to sustain their growth plans, they need to demonstrate fresh thinking and an innovative approach to attracting talent from a global pool. This will help them stay ahead of the curve as the economy recovers and the war for talent intensifies.”

Last week, research by the CBI and KPMG was published suggesting a particular shortage of highly-skilled workers in London.