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A striking survey of UK growth businesses has cast doubt on the idea that the success of UK plc is mainly down to the government and the banks. According to the directors' network Knowledge Peers, business leaders see themselves as masters of their own destinies, not slaves to fortune. Strong leadership, good people and focus on business fundamentals are the keys to success.

Knowledge Peers surveyed directors of small to mid-sized companies. When asked, “What business challenge is currently keeping you awake at night?”, by far the most important issues identified were commercial and people-related. 20% of votes went to ‘sales and selling’; ‘competitors’ garnered 15%, closely followed by ‘people issues’ with 14%; ‘marketing’ with 12% and then ‘customers’ with 11%.

‘Access to finance’ accounted for under 10% of votes – perhaps surprisingly low, given the current concerns about bank lending to SMEs. A further 6% of votes went to ‘Infrastructure’, which...

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