It’s fair to say that we think Bristol is a great place to build a business but it seems we’re not alone …

Business confidence is on the up in Bristol & Bath’s creative sector according to survey results released this month by Bristol Media. The results show a 9 per cent increase in optimism with 75 per cent of respondents feeling more assured about their business prospects than in 2015. Over one fifth of companies who participated in the survey reported that they expect a profit increase of 21 per cent or more in 2016.

Commissioned by Bristol Media, the network for the region’s creative community, the annual Barometer survey benchmarks business performance and also explores the trends, insights, opportunities and threats facing creative companies in Bristol & Bath.

The Barometer discloses that employment opportunities are on the rise and up 5 per cent in 2016, with 58 per cent of respondents planning to hire more people in the next 12 months. This statistic indicates plans for growth and underlines the ambitions of creative companies in the region.

Challenges are still aplenty, the report highlighted the need for the creative industry to be flexible and adapt to the ‘freelance economy’ or risk losing current and potential talent. Last year, 28 per cent of respondents reported the number of people choosing to work freelance as a challenge and in just 12 months this has almost doubled to 51 per cent of respondents.

In terms of financing, the picture looks very similar to 2015 with only 14 per cent of respondents using bank funding to support the growth of their business. A number of alternative financing options have entered the market focused on   ‘fast growth financing’ and ‘growth accelerator funding’ but the vast majority of respondents (77 per cent) are still self-funded by Directors, the same outcome as last year.  There is a concern that lack of awareness or slow adoption of financing options may over time limit the potential growth, development and competitiveness of Bristol & Bath’s creative community.

Over 84 per cent of respondents revealed pride at being Bristol & Bath based. “The key selling points of this area were reported as being built environment and culture, easy access to rest of the country and most interestingly, the collaborative business culture,” comments Fraser Bradshaw, CEO, Bristol Media.

In fact, 96 per cent of respondents were undertaking some form of collaboration highlighting the number of local alliances and the level of business cooperation happening in the South West.

The survey revealed that 30 per cent of ambitious local businesses were considering international expansion. London was cited as the most popular destination for a second office followed by overseas with Beijing, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Dubai and LA cited as places where local businesses had embraced global opportunities.

“The 2016 Bristol Media Barometer gives an insightful picture into Bristol & Bath’s creative sector. It shows a sector in good health and poised for further growth and greatness. The creative industries have been identified as a national and South West growth priority by the central government. The recent proposed creation of a “West of England” Mayor and a Bristol city-region may well provide further impetus and infrastructure to highlight the successes of our industry and put the Bath and Bristol creative community further in the spotlight,” commented Bradshaw.

The 2016 Barometer focuses on the balance sheet, business management, recruitment trends, new business development and the ambitions of businesses started locally. It looks at collaboration and gets under the skin of what makes Bristol and Bath special as a creative powerhouse. For a full copy of the report either download a PDF copy directly from the Bristol Media website: or email Lynda Davies [email protected]