Brexit remains the single biggest challenge facing SMEs with over one third of firms on the island of Ireland saying that the UK's planned exit from the European Union is having a negative impact on their business.

This is almost double the figure from last year, the latest InterTradeIreland's all-island Business Monitor shows. 

The monitor - which covers the third quarter of this year - also reveals that the number of firms stepping up to the challenge and getting ready as best they can for Brexit is increasing.

28% of cross-border traders said they have taken mitigating action particularly in areas such as supply chain, contracts and cash flow.

Overall, InterTradeIreland's latest monitor shows the business environment remains positive, with 46% of companies across the island reporting growth, while a similar amount - 44% - are stable.

However, the outlook for the construction sector has softened, with one in four firms experiencing a decrease in sales the third quarter.

Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland's Designated Officer and Director of Strategy and Policy, said the group is obviously concerned with the rising negative impact of Brexit on business performance but reassured to see more cross-border SMEs start to prepare.

"We encourage more businesses to avail of the supports available to them including InterTradeIreland's on-line learning resources and funding of up to £4,500/ €5,000 to help with expert advice," Mr Gough said.

He also said that InterTradeIreland is focused on helping SMEs innovate and prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future.