However, for SMEs and start-ups there are many reasons to be cheerful and perhaps it’s time for us all to stop moaning, be positive and move ahead. So where are the opportunities?
Small is beautiful in 2017
Both the economy and stock market showed signs of strength during the final weeks of 2016 and niche companies, in particular, are finding success by targeting smaller, specific audiences. Audiences are proving their loyalty by returning to much loved suppliers, valuing the authenticity of the smaller brand. Crowdfunding is becoming a very real source of financing for entrepreneurs. Start-ups can engage the public and gain their support in ways that their bigger rivals can’t.
Increase in tourism
The weakening pound has made the UK a very attractive destination for visitors and we’ve already seen an increase in tourism. Although opinions vary on the exact increase, VisitBritain, the UK’s tourist board, said a new record was set in 2016 for holidays to Britain. How could that positively affect your business? For retailers, and hospitality businesses the opportunities are clear. With the weak pound making foreign travel less popular, it’s highly likely that there will be an increase in Brits staying home, benefitting those who can support the ‘staycation’.
Start-ups and SMEs are still the darlings of the City
Stocks and bonds are uncertain and a growing number of adventurous investors are looking at other ways to grow their wealth including investing in start-ups. Companies that are turning individuals into entrepreneurs are gaining ground with sites like Airbnb, Uber, Etsy and Taskrabbit helping many small businesses take off. Embracing the Gig Economy, companies that serve and support freelancers will benefit.
Property market improving
Home-flipping increased in 2016 and will continue to be popular in 2017. If your business relates to the property market, whether decoration and construction, real estate or legal services, you could benefit.
The Internet has democratised the Market Place
Small companies that can make use of newer online payment options have a major edge over larger competitors. As Google focusses more on the user experience, experts predict big changes, especially in the companies that get noticed in web searches and in search engine rankings. User interaction, even for the small companies, can improve your chances to beat your bigger more unwieldy competitors.
Brand UK is as popular as ever
British businesses still carry cache amongst international audiences and selling services abroad, often through the internet, will provide many small business with a potentially enormous new marketplace of consumers who find the British goods cheaper than their local suppliers.
So the savvy entrepreneur does have reasons to be cheerful. Let’s hope 2017 is the year of the SME.
by Michelle Wright, founder and CEO of Cause4