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The Productive Business Index 

Lots of reports give a general indication of SME performance.

Be the Business goes a step further to understand the actions small business leaders are taking to improve the capabilities of their businesses.

The Productive Business Index focuses on the productivity of micro, small- and medium-sized businesses in the UK

The Productive Business Index (PBI) series tracks changes over time in five key capability areas to understand what actions SMEs are taking to improve their productivity.

A woman with short brown hair and a pink floral blouse holds a copy of the G7 PBI to her chest. She is listening to a woman who has her back to the camera and is shown slightly out of focus.
We launched our G7 Productive Business Index at a special event in Whitehall

Creating the Productive Business Index

We track changes in the five key areas (management skills, training and HR, innovation, process efficiency and technology adoption) as well as general operating conditions, barriers to growth and expectations for the future.

The data we collect is analysed and combined to produce our index:

  • Business performance measures trading conditions and company sentiment

  • Business capabilities assesses activity in the five areas that drive productivity improvements

  • In both performance and capabilities, we assess the current situation, as well as asking about future expectations and plans for improvements

  • We then produce a business performance index and a business capabilities index

  • These are combined to produce assessments of the overall current and expected situation

  • Finally, these combine to form our overall Productive Business Index figure

Findings from Edition Seven:

Front cover graphic of the Productive Business Index - Edition 7.

Our Productive Business Index is now in its seventh edition.

  • Our data revealed higher levels of confidence and optimism amongst UK SMEs

  • While previous editions had seen a decline in the PBI from Q1 2022, this latest report saw an increase of over 2.5 points, driven by a strong growth in activities to improve productivity being undertaken and planned by businesses

  • The data also revealed a gain in performance indicators, driven by optimism about future trading conditions

  • 38% of business leaders predict increased revenues over the next 3 months - the most positive forecast since the first edition of the PBI in 2021

  • 45% of younger business leaders (18-34 years) say the financial situation of their business improved over the last 3 months, compared to just 22% of business leaders aged 55+

  • 70% of business leaders say their business has the skills and talent they need to succeed – the highest level recorded by the PBI

  • Business leaders are split on their hopes for the next government: 32% of business leaders believe their business will be better off under a Labour Government, while another 32% of business leaders believe their business will be better off under a Conservative Government

  • The UK’s Confidence-Action Gap

    The UK’s Confidence-Action Gap, which highlights the discrepancy between UK SMEs’ confidence levels and the actions they take to improve productivity, remains evident and unchanged from one year ago, at 24%.

    Addressing the Confidence-Action Gap, which Be the Business discovered as part of our work analysing productivity amongst SMEs within the G7, was a central focus of the Be the Business Manifesto, published in early 2024.