Two thirds of Irish small firms expect their businesses to grow this year, a new survey reveals today. 

The Small Firms Association predicts economic output will grow by between 4% and 5% this year based on the bullish views of almost 900 of its members in its annual outlook survey.

With the majority of them expecting growth, over 70% also expect to invest in their businesses in 2015.

Investment in brand development is the priority for 41% of respondents, with 26% planning to invest in staff, 18% in IT and 13% in improving their customer knowledge. 

SFA Director Patricia Callan said that small firms have now moved from survival mode, to focusing on how they can grow their market share.  

"Brand development and marketing are key parts of this strategy and hiring and retaining the right people is already emerging a problem in many sectors, particularly in IT and high-tech sectors.  Owner-managers are now focusing on upskilling themselves and their teams to gain competitive advantage”, she added. 

Ms Callan also urged the Government to put small businesses at the heart of economic policymaking and prove a pro-business economic environment to help them thrive.