The ECI Growth Survey

91%

Believe that Britain
should stay in the EU

Strength of £ No. 1 barrier to growing exports

9/10

Of respondents report a
skills shortage

Executive summary

The ECI Growth Survey has been helping to highlight the issues facing the UK’s growth companies for six years now.

However long it runs for, one aspect that never fails to delight me each year is the new wave of exciting growth companies we discover that, only 12 months ago, most of us had not even heard of.

This is a great testament to the innovation, risk taking and hard work of entrepreneurs in the UK.

Several of the case studies that accompany this year’s survey highlight the youthful nature of growth businesses and entrepreneurs in the UK.

Bulldog was founded in 2006, GoApe in 2001, Nomad Digital in 2002 and TheJobPost in 2001. This new breed of UK business and entrepreneur is what has been driving the economy out of the economic downturn and creating three million private sector jobs since December 2009.

This survey acts as a celebration of this achievement but also a warning to policy makers about how fragile the foundations of this success can be.

Yes, the financing of growth businesses has improved considerably since the recession. The variety of debt and equity sources for companies has never been so vast. This does create the challenge for owners to know what sources of finance can best help them grow their businesses, and more is being done by the likes of the CBI to help here.

A record 69% of growth companies are likely to seek private equity investment over the next 12 months

As a private equity investor, it is fantastic to see so many growth companies likely to seek backing from our sector. In the UK today, private equity funds support more than 2,200 companies, with more than £30 billion invested. These companies employ more than 800,000 people. It is truly a win-win relationship between investors who need returns – millions of UK pensioners benefit from the profits generated – and the companies which receive capital and expert guidance on how to maximise their potential.

However, the future success of UK growth companies is far from guaranteed. There is the threat of a British exit from the European Union, an expected rise in interest rates, faltering economic growth in Europe and China and, as is highlighted very clearly in this survey, a growing shortage of skilled workers.

Everyone who believes in the importance of a vibrant, innovative economy driven forward by exciting growth companies has a duty to promote the values embodied in these businesses and the entrepreneurs that run them.

There is some unease across the world in the capitalist system and, yes, immoral behaviour needs to be highlighted, punished and prevented.

However, it is only through the innovation and vibrancy of growth companies that we can improve the welfare of society. It is these businesses that create the jobs which not only pay salaries to put food on the table but also give people a sense of worth.

It is these businesses that create the profits and salaries that pay for the level of state support we all demand.

Finally it is these thriving ventures that bring us new and exciting experiences – GoApe on page 14 is a fine example – which make our everyday lives a little more enjoyable.

So, once again as we did last year we sign off with, “Entrepreneurs, we salute you.”