David Prosser: Leading the country out of recession

Outlook: Small and medium-sized businesses say they have weathered the recession remarkably well
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The Independent Online

Some good news at last – and from a source that you quite wrongly do not often hear from. Small and medium-sized businesses say they have weathered the recession remarkably well, research conducted by CultureMap for The Independent reveals today, and are markedly more optimistic about the future than their stock market- quoted equivalents.

Given that SMEs account for 99 per cent of British businesses, as well as more than half of the country's jobs and sales, this is a piece of research that should come as a pleasant surprise – as well as being taken seriously. But for various reasons, these independent businesses do not get the coverage they deserve.

The Independent wants to take the lead in putting that right, especially in an economic environment where these entrepreneurial, forward-thinking and confident businesses may just be the key to getting the country out of recession. Today we launch Independent Business Extra, a regular publication that is aimed specifically at independent businesses and enterprises.

What is striking about CultureMap's research is the resilience these organisations have been showing. Just 6 per cent of the 5,000 businesses in the research say they have shed jobs during the downturn. More of them – some 10 per cent – have added to headcounts.

What these businesses have in common is an ability to recognise opportunity whatever the prevailing economic winds. It is a quality that many larger companies, the so-called blue chips, would do well to acquire. Independent Business Extra is a good place to start learning from them.