Nothing much has changed with the year turn. That’s the message for small businesses getting underway with 2018.
‘The same external and internal political, economic and market challenges remain for businesses for next year as they did for 2017 according to the new research by ICAEW’, says our recent press release.
‘Despite improved global conditions, uncertainty about the UK’s relationship with the EU continues to be the biggest concern for business.’
Our research gauged opinion among businesses. Here are its key findings.
• Most businesses still expect that uncertainty around Brexit ‘could affect them negatively’ – that’s the view expressed by 65 per cent (down slightly from 68 per cent in 2017)
• More than a third – 36 per cent – ‘believe that immigration policy on EU migrants could negatively impact their activity in 2018’. This is no change from last year, though more than twice the number who expressed concern in 2016, when the number stood at 14 per cent
• A skills shortage still worries some. It’s described as ‘a continuing challenge’ in our press release, cited by 44 per cent of businesses, compared with 39 per cent in 2017, ‘across businesses of all sizes’
• The recent interest rate rise doesn’t seem to have overly upset things: 43 per cent ‘feel rises would have a negative impact in 2018’, but that’s not dissimilar to 47% in 2017
• And finally, ‘40% of all businesses feel that the value of the pound relative to other currencies could cause problems in the year ahead’ – some way down on the 48 per cent in 2017
The press release closes with a quote from Matthew Rideout, ICAEW Director of Business.
Among other things, he suggests ‘If Brexit talks can lead us swiftly to a full transition deal and a longer-term trade deal, then the horizon will get a little brighter for 2018’.
He encourages all business owners to take heart.
‘Sparks of confidence and opportunities are there,’ he says, ‘especially in global markets but need to be ignited further. Businesses should look beyond Europe and take the initiative to invest in technology, training and development.’
Does this concur with how you’re feeling?