Without wishing to put a downer on your Christmas celebrations, a new report from the Bank of Scotland suggests that the outlook for small UK firms has worsened in recent months. Growth forecasts are being lowered as small business are taking a more cautious approach and 60% think economic conditions are going to get worse over the coming new year. Given the latest credit crisis banks are more reluctant to lend money and the ever-increasing red-tape and tax burdens are heavy loads for small businesses. Read more on the report, which was based on conversations with 1,000 executives or owners of small firms whose annual turnover reached up to £1m. (The original research was collected by The Opinion Research Business.)

So what can you do about it? Better and sharper business practices, making the most of the resources that are available to you - some of them free. Use your local Business Link and the SEEDA business IT guide as well as the Small Business site of course.