Only 17% of those surveyed were pessimistic about figures next year
Research carried out for the Institute of Directors found 47% of bosses were “quite optimistic” or “very optimistic” about the outlook for 2018 for their companies.
In contrast, only 17% were either quite or very pessimistic about the coming 12 months. Just over a third (36%) were neither positive nor optimistic about next year.
Yet nearly half (47%) of the 762 business leaders in the survey were pessimistic about the wider outlook for Britain’s economy.
The findings are likely to give further weight to the argument that British firms are defying gloomy claims about the country’s economic prospects as the departure from the EU approaches.
Half of the Institute’s members, predominantly drawn from small and mid-sized businesses, claimed domestic economic conditions were the leading negative factor for their firms.
Institute of Directors members have pointed towards domestic economic conditions as major setbacks
It is welcome to see that directors are cautiously optimistic for their own businesses
Four in 10 said uncertainty surrounding the UK’s trading status with the EU and skills shortages was having a detrimental effect.
Firms wanted to see more Government investment in infrastructure in 2018, including transport networks and the digital economy.
Cuts in regulation and red tape for business also featured prominently on the New Year wish list for IoD members.
More than a third of IoD members want funding to improve existing transport infrastructure, closely followed by support for better coverage of faster broadband and simplifying red tape.
Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “Everyone wants to end the year on a positive note, and it is welcome to see that directors are cautiously optimistic for their own businesses.”
IoD director Stephen Martin praised directors outlooks for the next year
“We have seen progress in recent weeks in the Brexit talks, and overall the economy has beaten the more negative predictions for 2017.
“Our members will be looking ahead to 2018 determined to ensure their companies continue to thrive.
“The concern in these figures is the prevailing low expectations for the performance of the economy as a whole.
“Domestic economic conditions and uncertainty around our trading relationship with the EU continue to top our members’ concerns.
“The Government must now build on the resilience of business leaders. It can help to bolster confidence by hitting the ground running in January, pushing ahead with the priorities spelled out in its Industrial Strategy in areas like transport and skills.”
Building on business leader confidence would be a vital government strategy
“It is also absolutely vital that quick progress is made in agreeing transitional arrangements with the EU for what comes after March 2019.
“Businesses need to plan ahead, so the Government must deliver greater certainty on the Brexit transition early in the New Year.
“The next few months are a critical time for this Government and for businesses up and down this country.
“Getting the business environment right by investing in infrastructure and serious engagement with companies on the future trading relationship with the EU must remain top of the agenda.”
The IoD’s survey follows an admission yesterday that international economic forecasters were “too pessimistic” about the impact of Brexit on Britain and the world.
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A report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research found the effects on the UK economy following the referendum vote to leave the EU had been less than expected.
Britain was also on course to over take France in the world economic performance rankings next year, the report said.
Meanwhile, another report yesterday forecast growing demand for computer security staff, data analysts, accountants and civil engineers in 2018.
Research by recruitment firm Hays showed that just over half the UK workforce would be looking for a new job next year, while three out of four employers planned to recruit staff.
Hays said its survey of 17,500 employers and workers found that competition for jobs would be high in 2018, but the outlook for those looking to move was “positive”.