Optimism among entrepreneurs has hit a six-year high, as they make plans for growth

Business owners are optimistic about the year ahead, with the majority expecting to see significant growth.

A new report from Deloitte reveals that 82% of entrepreneurs think their companies will grow by at least 10% over the course of the next 12 months.

Confidence is so high, in fact, that 18% expect to see expansion of more than 50% during the same period.

It is the most optimistic forecast since the professional services firm began surveying entrepreneurs in 2008, when 67% predicted at least 10% growth.

In a further sign of buoyancy, just 5% expect their turnover to fall over the next year and 88% expect the economy to grow by up to 2%.

The latest figures come on the back of a strong previous 12 months for entrepreneurs, where 83% experienced a growth in turnover, while 14% saw growth of more than 50%.

Another encouraging sign is the apparent willingness of business owners to invest their money rather than keep it stashed away.

This year, some 56% of entrepreneurs claim they will use their cash reserves to finance growth, with just 15% actively stockpiling money - down from 32% in 2012.

Some 29% also say they are taking the bold steps of investing in new products and exporting to new markets as part of their primary growth strategy, while 49% of companies are planning to use organic growth as their main growth strategy.

When it comes to funding growth plans, however, it appears that most entrepreneurs remain reliant on working capital.

Just 19% think that banks are more willing to lend now than they were last year, while only 10% expect to take out a bank loan and just 7% will use an overdraft facility.

"Banks may have funds available to lend to businesses, and they may be loosening the criteria by which they spend, but it seems entrepreneurs are still unwilling to borrow from them," said Mark Doleman, head of entrepreneurial business at Deloitte.

"This is bad not just for entrepreneurs, but also for the banks, so it is important that this relationship is mended."

Copyright Press Association 2013