The latest all-island business monitor survey by InterTradeIreland found that while companies are growing, they are concerned about rising costs.
Compared to their larger counterparts, small businesses are finding it more challenging to grow in the current economic climate.
Almost half (44pc) of large firms in Ireland are growing compared to just 14pc of small companies. That discrepancy was uncovered by InterTradeIreland’s latest all-island business monitor survey.
“We talk to a wide range of businesses across the board to understand what is happening in all corners of the economy,” said Martin Robinson, InterTradeIreland’s director of strategy.
The difference in the growth of large and small companies “is a real contrast”, he said.
The organisation surveyed more than 750 business leaders across the Republic and Northern Ireland. The resulting report looked at how companies have been performing during the first quarter of this year.
The greater struggles for small companies is perhaps not much of a surprise. A KPMG report from last month that looked at Irish VC investment in start-ups during the same period found that it had decreased by more than half compared to Q1 of last year.
KPMG’s prognosis for the coming quarter was not positive either. It predicted that Q2 of 2023 will be a “challenging” time for businesses and investors alike.
Stable footing for growth
However, 55pc of businesses featured in InterTradeIreland’s report indicated that they were on a stable footing in terms of growth. More than a third (36pc) of businesses reported some level of growth and a third said they were optimistic about sales increases over the next six months.
According to Robinson, there is still some progress to be made in cross-border trading.
“We know that businesses that export enjoy higher rates of growth and profitability, yet only one in five firms surveyed are selling across the border. The cross-border market is a natural first step particularly for small firms to begin their export journey.”
He encouraged businesses to take advantage of the “wide range of trade information, advice and practical support that InterTradeIreland provides to help grow cross-border exports.”
Energy and rising costs were the main concerns for businesses this past quarter, with 80pc of respondents saying they expected further rises in the coming months.
Finding the right talent and skilled staff was also a difficulty, with 30pc saying that their companies were affected by the problem.
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