Despite a positive outlook for 2014, utilities costs, business rates and time constraints remain key obstacles for small business growth, The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has found.

The latest research by FPB revealed that 85% of those surveyed were positive about the coming year and planned to expand their business in 2014.

Around one third of businesses plan to expand their workforce, with over half looking to build customer growth and satisfaction.

Alexander Jackman, Head of Policy at the Forum of Private Business, said small businesses are showing a positive, though restrained, outlook for 2014.

Time, money and expertise were believed to be the main challenges facing small businesses, many of whom had to downsize to manage cash flow issues caused by the financial crisis.

Time is recognised as the biggest barrier. Over a third of small businesses believe that time will continue to be a major challenge as they look to grow their business over the next 12 months.

Commenting on the results, Mr Jackman, said:

“That time is now the biggest barrier for businesses growth potential in 2014 sends a clear message to Government. Now is the time to build on the success of deregulation measures introduced and to really push on minimising the impact of some of the big employment law reforms currently in progress. A focus on creating stability of regulation for small businesses would be enormously helpful.”