The mid-market minds

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Entrepreneurial spirit maintains optimism as firms look past slowdown and plan for growth.
Our experts opinion

Business leaders across the globe began this year with a sense of caution. According to data from the International Business Report (IBR), Grant Thornton’s global survey of mid-market companies, optimism among business leaders had fallen to 59%, down from a recent high of 70% at the end of 2021. Despite this fall, optimism was still above historic averages, suggesting that mid-market firms had confidence that conditions will improve, even when faced with some significant challenges. As more recent fears of impending slowdown recede in many markets, business leaders can plan ahead with increased assurance that conditions look set to improve.

Although there are signs of an improving global economic outlook, mid-market firms are under no illusions about the difficulties ahead. Economic uncertainty and energy costs remain the top concerns globally with 60% of mid-market businesses citing them as a constraint to growing their business. This is followed closely by the availability of skilled workers (57%) and labour costs (55%). Firms need to consider how they can respond to this business environment and ongoing uncertainty.

Grant Thornton’s latest research shows how mid-market businesses are adapting in some key ways as they prepare for an expected upswing in wider economic conditions.

Many firms are taking the time to re-evaluate their supply chains. One of our key insights from the most recent data is that many business leaders are focussed on working out whether they can deliver more value by shifting their trade routes, or if there are markets in which they can grow. The nature of the mid-market means businesses are more likely to be adaptable, able to make decisions quickly and decisively.

The second area of key insight identifies how this adaptability allows leaders to be constantly looking for opportunities, even as they are faced by some very real threats. The research shows that prime among the issues weighing on their minds are economic uncertainty, inflation and the risk of cyberattack, but they will also be only too aware that current economic turbulence may create other threats.

In order to respond to these threats effectively, firms will need the right teams in place but, as our third key insight demonstrates, hiring and retaining the right talent remains a challenge amid a widescale skills shortage and with inflation adding to firms’ labour costs.


Finally, the fourth key insight from the data looks at how business leaders are working to increase productivity. Identifying the areas for investment that will be most effective for bringing about growth and allowing them to stay one step ahead of their competitors.


David Munton

Global leader - International capabilities and support, Grant Thornton International

David Munton photo“Mid-market businesses do have the right to feel optimistic. Sure, their optimism has been tested but, over the last few years, mid-market firms have shown real resilience. No matter what challenge gets thrown in front of the mid-market, they do seem to navigate those difficulties really well. They’re agile, they're flexible, but they're also sensible in how they deal with those challenges so that they emerge stronger at the end of the day.

“So mid-market businesses are right to have the confidence that they will continue to grow internationally, that they will continue to grow their customer base, to develop their talent, and diversify and protect their supply chain.

“At the heart of just about every mid-market business is entrepreneurial spirit. And that entrepreneurial spirit really drives forwards the ambition, the confidence, and the resilience of these mid-market businesses. That entrepreneurial flame doesn't show any sign of dying down”.


Peter Bodin

CEO, Grant Thornton International

Peter Bodin photo“Mid-market business leaders have learned they must focus on resilience to survive the geopolitical and economic uncertainty of today’s global markets. Despite this, many still expect to sell to more countries, and to grow their exports and international revenues. The challenge for leaders is to make strategic responses to these volatile markets without over-reacting. Mid-market business leaders who get this balance right will emerge stronger and better able to exploit opportunities when the markets rebound.”


Arnaldo Hasenclever

IBC Director, Grant Thornton Argentina

Arnaldo Hasenclever photo"In Argentina, the existence of uncertainty is not something new, nor is the resilience of middle-market entrepreneurs. Local macroeconomic variables have values that in many cases are world records, such as annual inflation above 100%, multiple exchange rates with restrictions on access to foreign currency, low Central Bank reserves that do not allow imports, among other.

During the year 2023 there will be elections in Argentina that may allow new initiatives to normalize the situation, but any of the measures that are going to be implemented could be painful for the population and companies in the country.

The only hope is that in our country there are many riches that at some point may help to resolve the situation, such as industrialized agricultural production, mining, renewable and traditional energy, as well as receptive tourism. It must also be considered that in our country there are many people with good education and training to be able to face the challenges".