How SMEs can survive and thrive in 2018

 
Katherine Denham
Prime Minister Theresa May Visits A Local Butchers Shop In Her Constituency Of Maidenhead
Source: Getty

There's a bulk of changes taking place in the UK, and indeed the wider world, which are set to impact the business community in one way or another.

Let’s look at some of the trends that might affect your company in the year ahead.

Your online presence will be even more important

According to the Capital Economics’ SME Growth Tracker, 90 per cent of British businesses plan to sell their products online by the end of 2018.

As it stands, just 64 per cent sell online, but it’s largely the smaller companies that plan to make headway by selling goods on their own websites.

Huge strides will be made in tech

The government’s industrial strategy, which puts tech at the top of the priority list, is set to give British industries a boost, particularly companies in the construction, artificial intelligence (AI), automotive, and life science sectors. It’s also thought that AI products could become accessible to small firms as costs come down.

But in a burgeoning tech world comes the increased threat of cyber attacks. Make sure you have the systems in place to protect your business from this danger.

You face a surge in regulatory changes

2018 is the year when regulators introduce a whole host of new rules, including Mifid II, PSD2 (which includes Open Banking in its midst), and GDPR, to name but a few.

For many businesses, this has been, and will continue to be, a huge operation to ensure they meet the necessary standards.

Plan a time each week or month to review your progress so you can comfortably meet deadlines.

The gig economy will grow

As more people go freelance in preference for flexible hours, we will gradually see the end of the traditional 9 to 5 working day.

In fact, a report from Timewise and EY, indicates that a whopping 87 per cent of British workers are either keen to work flexibly, or are already doing so.

Companies should take stock of this – and perhaps look at measuring employees’ on what they deliver, rather than the hours they sit at their desk.

Giving employees more freedom could actually benefit your business in the long run.

Keep a beady eye on Brexit

You’ve probably had enough of the dreaded “B” word, but it’s crucial to keep one eye on the outcomes of negotiations to gauge the potential impact on your business, particularly if you import or export goods.

In fact, research from the CBI in November found that optimism among SME manufacturers had deteriorated for the first time in a year as growth slowed and pricing pressure increased. Yet it’s not all doom and gloom, because the research found that companies were spending more on staff and innovation.

This year it will be more crucial than ever for British businesses to stay on their toes if they want survive, and ultimately thrive.

Peter Alderson, managing director of business finance group ‚ÄčLDF, says:

“For many business owners across the UK, January is a time to consider the year ahead. Some will be adapting to accommodate pending changes in regulation, while others will be facilitating new business development, or recruitment aims. It’s very much a time for taking stock.

“There’s no doubt that a number of changes are coming for small business in 2018 which will, in turn, create some challenges over the next couple of years.

“Access to finance remains a critical consideration for UK small business, and more are exploring financial options outside of traditional bank offerings that can support the level of business development needed to compete in new tech and online spaces.

“It’s crucial that businesses, are financially agile enough to adapt.

“We’ve seen a large uplift in demand for our services in the last 12-months, which saw us deliver over £500m in funding to small business in 2017, up more than 30 per cent on the previous year, and this shows no sign of slowing.”

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