Two thirds of firms in the Republic of Ireland and the north say they continue to be concerned about the impact of Covid-19, a new survey from InterTradeIreland has found.
A similar proportion claim they are concerned about energy bills and 62% are worried about overheads.
Despite this, two out of every five businesses are in growth mode as pandemic restrictions ease.
A similar number claim their situation is stable, the Business Monitor for the last quarter of 2021 found.
More than half of businesses say they have stayed in profit over the last year, despite the pressure of the pandemic.
"It's certainly positive to see that so many firms are stable, however as the Business Monitor shows, the context behind the figures tells a more complicated story," said InterTradeIreland’s Acting Director of Strategy and Policy, Kerry Curran.
"The impact of the pandemic and in particular higher operating costs continues to weigh heavily on firms."
The survey also found that firms are having difficulty in recruiting, particularly those in the building sector.
"It remains to be seen, if in the long-run the inability to attract staff will continue to be a thorn in the side of businesses, which could constrain growth," said Ms Curran.
Brexit continues to be a challenge for many with 49% of firms in Northern Ireland and 46% in the Republic citing it.
"Many business owners may think now is the time to catch a breath," said Kerry Curran.
"Asked in the Business Monitor about future plans, 41% of business want to focus on recovery, while just over a fifth (22%) want to maintain their current position."
"However, there are still 22% of businesses that are seeking to find new customers in order to expand - in this cohort, over a third are looking to the cross-border market to grow sales."