By Daniel Hunter

Sage have revealed insights from its recent Business Index study showing that despite UK business confidence recording the highest level since 2008, the majority (69%) of respondents felt that the current economic climate made it harder for small businesses and startups to compete with bigger, more established companies.

While only 7% of the 1,350 UK businesses surveyed believed it was easier for small to medium businesses (SMBs) to compete with their more established counterparts, the research identified clear areas where smaller companies can steal a march on larger rivals.

Of those companies that believe it is now easier for smaller businesses to compete with larger ones, two fifths (41%) see the rise of social media as a simple and cost effective marketing tool as the biggest enabler. 18% perceive the agility and adaptability of small businesses worked in their favour, while 15% believed that the more personal service that small businesses can deliver make them more attractive to consumers.

The dominant belief amongst the UK business community is that big businesses continue to have the edge, but encouragingly for SMBs almost half (45%) believe small businesses are catching up, while one in ten (10%) believe it’s now a level playing field.

UK respondents were bullish about their own prospects with two thirds (65%) saying they felt confident about competing with businesses bigger than their own. This fighting spirit supports a key finding from the fourth global Business Index survey, which revealed that UK businesses were the most confident in Europe about their prospects over the next six months (58.46), recording their highest confidence levels since the Business Index began in 2011.

“Big business may still have the edge in the current marketplace, but the tide is turning thanks to social media and the delivery of a personal customer service," Brendan Flattery, CEO of Sage UK and Ireland said.

"It’s crucial that small to medium businesses and entrepreneurs are given the tools they need to thrive and feel empowered to compete with companies bigger and more established than themselves.”

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