New Year, New SME: 5 Resolutions for Small Business Owners in 2019

With fizz and fireworks but a distant memory, it’s business as usual for SMEs up and down the nation as the UK settles into 2019. Yet with another clock already ticking (and March’s current Brexit date looming ever closer), business owners are buckling up for what promises to be an historic transition for the country’s economy. Regardless of what sceptics may argue however – elephant in the room aside – small business owners should look to set their own challenges this year, adapting to the changing landscape in order to both evolve their offering and thrive from within. We take a look at five resolutions for business owners to make and keep in 2019, despite the imminent sea change.

Businesses that remain responsive and ahead of the curve will stand the best chance of survival through Brexit.

Get no-deal savvy

The top of the list, and with good reason. Whether the term Brexit gives you the ‘heebeegeebees’ or not, the very real chance of a no-deal departure now has business owners upping their game plans in the face of a worst-case scenario. Nobody knows what the future may hold, yet understanding the broader consequences of a no-deal Brexit can help SMEs plan their next move – whether this happens in March or not. But what can small businesses really do in the face of such uncertainty? From importing and exporting goods to VAT and employment rules, business owners should ready themselves ahead of any new legislation by reviewing their current processes – and how these could be affected by Brexit. Most importantly, a business that remains responsive and ahead of the curve will stand the best chance of survival.

Know your employees better

From dealings with the Continent to keeping it closer to home, business owners should re-assess the relationship they have with their employees as a priority. This goes beyond the annual out-of-office pilgrimage and team building exercise. Instead, take the time to sit down with your staff on a face-to-face basis, hear their opinions and recognise their ambitions. Offering time offsite for voluntary work, extra-curricular activities and wellbeing opportunities will also give you a more well-rounded view of a team working not below you, but alongside you. When it comes to workforce retention, specialist training and career development will only encourage employees to commit in the long term. A valued team is a happy team, and one that stays focused through the good times and the bad.

From Making Tax Digital (MTD) to measuring performance and increasing productivity, the only way is up with easy-to-use digital tools available to SMEs.

Embrace digital

From Making Tax Digital (MTD) to measuring performance and increasing productivity, the only way is up with easy-to-use digital tools available to SMEs. It’s never too late to get tech-savvy, with digital solutions improving efficiency and transparency within the workplace; for smaller businesses, cutting out the admin (and that extra paperwork you just don’t have time for) can help you focus on the bigger picture. When it comes to choosing the right tools for your business, the possibilities are endless: help teams get organised with a streamlined communication system such as Slack; measure chargeable hours digitally with TimeCamp; track receipts, invoice and more with Xero business accounting software. With many apps available for free or offering a free trial period, there’s no time like the present where productivity is concerned.

Refine your social presence

While your social channel icons may display in a proud banner across your website, if you’re not actively posting via these networks, you may want to re-consider your strategy. For customers wishing to ask a question or simply learn more about your business within the social space, there’s nothing more frustrating than an inactive account. Instead, ask yourself which networks are best suited to your current offering (which might well have changed since you first joined Facebook). A florist for example may choose to post their seasonal creations and how-to tips on Instagram, while a tech company owner will strive to position themselves as thought leader by sharing insight with industry professionals via LinkedIn. Whether you choose to remain active across a number of channels or just one – consistency is key to nurturing your social presence.

By upskilling an existing workforce and looking for ways to build your own expertise, doors will continue to open this new year.

Stay unconventional

Despite the ever-shifting landscape of the country’s economy, adaptability is fundamental for SMEs wishing to succeed in 2019 and beyond. As part of the UK’s micro business community, responding to change in a positive way and remaining agile will ensure your offering remains competitive; equally, it may be that some SMEs are able to avoid any immediate impact of new legislation felt by larger corporations in the coming future.

Together with improved efficiency and a happier, healthier work environment, small business owners should continue to think outside the box and push themselves beyond their comfort zone in order to evolve. By upskilling an existing workforce and looking for ways to build your own expertise, doors will continue to open this new year (perhaps where you least expect them).