Small Business Survey Scotland: 2017

Sets out the findings for Scotland of the Small Business Survey 2017.

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1. These figures include registered and unregistered businesses (Source: Businesses in Scotland 2017) and exclude central and local government.

2. The longitudinal element of the survey established a ‘panel’ of businesses that might be resurveyed in subsequent years. This is to allow for analysis of how combinations of factors affect business performance over time.

3. A stratified sample is drawn from a number of separate smaller groups (strata) of the population, rather than at random from the whole population, in order to allow for a more representative sample.

4. Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A); Mining and quarrying (B); Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply (D); and Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (E).

5. Wholesale and retail trade (G); repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (H); Transportation and storage; and Accommodation and food service activities (I).

6. Financial and insurance activities (K); Real estate activities (L); and Professional, scientific and technical activities (M).

7. Education (P); Human health and social work activities (Q); Arts, entertainment and recreation (R); and Other service activities (S).

8. If the difference between two estimates is said to be statistically significant, it means that only in exceptional circumstances (1 in 20 times) would we expect the true difference not to be significant.

9. In line with the rest of the findings reported in this report, these figures are weighted to be representative of the overall Scottish SME population.

10. Family-owned businesses are defined as majority owned by members of the same family.

11. Urban/rural locations are based on the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2013-2014.

12. 4 per cent of SME exporters did not know the number of years they have been exporting overseas.

13. Whilst both Scotland and the UK as a whole saw a two percentage point increase in the proportion of SMEs with employees that had innovated between the 2016 and 2017 surveys, the increase in Scotland was not statistically significant whilst the increase in the UK was statistically significant.

14. Whilst both Scotland and the UK as a whole saw a two percentage point increase in the proportion of SMEs with employees that had engaged in good/service innovation between the 2016 and 2017 surveys, the increase in Scotland was not statistically significant whilst the increase in the UK was statistically significant.

15. Five per cent of those SMEs that had introduced new or improved processes responded “don’t know”.

16. Training away from the individual’s immediate work position, whether on the same work premises or elsewhere.

17. Activities that would be recognised as training by the staff, that relate not only to the sort of learning by experience which could take place all the time.

18. Apprenticeships are paid jobs which incorporate on and off the job training designed towards an approved apprenticeship standard or framework. This section does not specifically refer to Scottish Modern Apprenticeships, as funded by Skills Development Scotland.

19. It is not possible to compare to the 2016 results due to a change in the way the question was asked in 2017.

20. Figures do not sum to the total (17 per cent) due to rounding.

21. The way this question was asked changed in 2017, therefore comparisons with previous years cannot be made.

22. This proportion includes those who had already applied for external finance in the last 12 months but who wanted more external finance that they did not apply for, as well as those that had a need for finance but did not apply at all.

23. The results for the question on employment growth differ between panellists (those businesses interviewed in both 2016 and 2017) and top-ups (those businesses interviewed for the first time in 2017). For panellists, the number of employees given in the previous year is used to make the comparison with the current number of employees. Top-up respondents were asked how many employees they had 12 months previously and were more likely to perceive that they had the same number of employees as before. For this reason, it is not possible to combine figures for the two groups, as overall results are dependent upon the ratio between panellists and top-ups within each survey.

24. Net balances may not sum to total due to rounding.

25. The net balance is described as the overall proportion of businesses that experienced turnover growth, minus the proportion of businesses that experienced turnover reduction, compared to 12 months ago. Therefore, a positive figure indicates that more businesses within that category experienced turnover growth than those that experienced turnover reduction.

26. Net Balances may not sum to total due to rounding.

27. Those SMEs that reported regulations and red tape as a major obstacle were asked which regulations they considered to be major obstacles. The most commonly reported regulations were tax-related regulations (19 per cent), other regulations not specifically defined (17 per cent), employment regulations (14 per cent), sector-specific regulations (13 per cent) and health and safety (13 per cent).

28. 227 firms in Scotland reported UK exit from the EU as a major obstacle.

29. This question was not asked in the prior year therefore it is not possible to draw comparisons with 2016.

30. SMEs were asked if they planned to undertake any of the following activities: increase the skills of the workforce; increase leadership capability of managers; capital investment; develop and launch new products/services; introduce new working practices; invest in R&D; increase export sales or begin selling to new overseas markets.


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