Small Business Morale Shows Us How to Shake the January Blues

11/01/2016 12:05 | Updated 11 January 2016

Ask most people what their overriding feeling is these first few days back in the office after Christmas and their response is unlikely to be 'optimism'. As Britain collectively shakes off its hangover, heads to the gym and wakes up in darkness, we can all be forgiven for a bout of the January blues.

But for small businesses across the UK - the engines of our economy that comprise 99.3% of the UK private sector - optimism is the flavour of the month, and that puts an extra spring in my step this January.

In our first Small Business Optimism Index, a regular barometer of companies trading on the internet, we've learnt that twice as many digital small businesses - of which over 200,000 operate on eBay - are optimistic about their growth prospects in 2016, than pessimistic. This is despite the well-documented headwinds facing the UK economy.

Optimism leads to confidence, which leads to investment and consequently economic growth - so small business vigour is great for Britain, and everyone who loves to shop on eBay.

These businesses tell us that optimism is borne out in three clear ways:

Small online businesses expect to employ more staff over the next 12 months. 2016 will be another exciting year for Leeds-based home décor brand, Dowsing & Reynolds, which is moving into new premises to facilitate its expansion and further hires to the current headcount of nine. Employment is important because it enhances the capabilities of the business into new areas, making them more innovative and better equipped for growth.

They're also looking to broaden the number of global markets they reach over the next 12 months, adding to the many already exporting through our Global Shipping Programme - a service which automatically lists your products in markets businesses wish to sell into. International expansion can be daunting but the digital infrastructure here in the UK makes accessing new pools of consumers easier than ever.

40 percent of small online businesses expressed confidence in expanding their product offering in 2016, creating ever greater choice. Businesses like Woodford-based tech retailer LaptopOutletDirect - which sold over 10,000 Windows Linx 7 Tablets in just two days around Black Friday - plan to diversify its mobile and smartphone product range in step with the changing media consumption habits of consumers. Not just good for business, but for our customers too.

Running a business isn't easy and the economic environment is not straightforward this year - you can't get by on optimism alone. But it's the hard graft of businesses like Dowsing & Reynolds and LaptopOutletDirect that are crucial to the UK economy's continued growth.

And in my opinion, their determined outlook and positivity serves as powerful inspiration for anyone struggling to find the motivation to tackle January head on and grasp the opportunities that the New Year presents.