Small business ambition is on the rise, according to Government research, with more small and medium-sized employers planning to grow their sales in the future.

In a survey by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 71% of SME employers said they aimed to grow their sales over the next three years.

This was a significant increase on the previous year, when 62% of SMEs said they planned to grow.

Micro-businesses - those employing between one and nine people - were the main drivers of this change with 69% aiming to grow, up from 59%.

The most popular growth-related activity was increasing workforce skills, as 61% of SME employers said they would do this in the next three years.

This was followed by recruiting new staff (53%), introducing new working practices (42%), and planning to increase managers' leadership capability (37%).

However, businesses also faced certain obstacles to their success, with 46% citing competition in the market as their main problem.

Regulations and red tape were also a common issue (43%), followed by taxation (40%), staff recruitment and skills (33%), late payment (33%), and Brexit (29%).

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