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Less than half of small businesses predict growth in 2017 – what can you do?

Improved trade agreements and a reduction in red tape were among some of the top small business demands

New research from network provider O2 shows that less than 50 per cent of the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) believe they will grow this year.

In a recent survey of 1,200 companies, only 46 per cent predicted that this year would be better than the last.

Economic uncertainty and difficulty in retaining employees were among the top concerns for SMEs.

In a message to the government as it prepares to begin Brexit negotiations, small businesses listed improved trade agreements as one of their top demands alongside a reduction in red tape, improved access to technology and increased access to training and talent.

Almost three-quarters of SMEs stated that they expect technology to be an important factor in their performance this year, however, 40 per cent admitted that they preferred the more traditional methods of reaching customers.

One in five stated that the staff lacked digital communication skills and the majority of SMEs said that they need more assistance from the government to aid their growth.

Larger businesses were more confident about the future of their businesses with 67 per cent predicting that their profits will rise in 2017.

The founder of Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones said:

“This research shows what we know to be true; that there is a way to go when it comes to small businesses making the most of the digital opportunity. What’s required is a healthy does of training and education”.

Ben Dowd, sales director at O2 addressed the risk that small businesses could fall behind stating that it is “vital they are equipped with the digital skills they need to remain competitive”.

So, what can small businesses do to promote growth this year?

Small business owners who have survived the start-up phase and built a successful business often wonder how to take the next step and grow their business.

There are plenty of possibilities, depending on the business, the resources available to you and how much you are willing to invest. Here are just some of the options:

Increase your sales to existing customers: This is the easiest way to boost your sales. To encourage repeat custom, you will need to keep tabs on who your customers are and what they buy so that you can target them.

Attract new customers: To grow your business, you need to keep attracting new customers. And in order to do this, you need to increase awareness, both online and in your local area.

Improve your products: It goes without saying that improving your product or service will help you to grow your business. However, it’s incredibly important to weigh up the pros and cons of these changes.

Open a new location: This is often the first thing that springs to mind when small businesses think about growth, however, it can also be the most expensive. Remember to think about your personal finances and only open a second location when you have enough capital to make it happen.

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.


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