In the wake of the recent budget announcement by Phillip Hammond, Small Business Advice Week is taking a look at what SMEs can expect in the coming years. While in the past many small business owners have expressed disappointment with how they’ve been overlooked, or undervalued compared to larger businesses by the Government, many may be glad to hear that things are finally seeming to change.
With big businesses relocating in the wake of Brexit, small businesses are being given support to maintain quality and security, and may even push through economic uncertainty to make growth during a time that many people have written off as a dead decade.
Given that the country faces its worst period of economic growth in decades, major setbacks were of course to be expected, but at long last small businesses appear to be vital to the government’s long-term recovery plan. Small Business Advice Week is taking a look at that plan, what it means for you, and how you can prepare for what lies ahead.
As productivity is predicted to decline over the coming years, the backbone of British business will have to fight harder than ever to maintain high turnover and survive into the post-Brexit world, whatever that may be. However small businesses are as tenacious and resourceful as ever, embracing change, and facing challenges that will require bold new solutions.
One of the biggest demands of the SME sector was for the government to address the skill shortage that has been plaguing small businesses of late. A focus was especially asked for in terms of crucial digital skills that the country will need as technology progresses faster and faster. Unless SMEs are given a wide pool of available talent, they could be left behind as well-trained graduates and experts are poached by larger companies.
Another crucial concern raised by technology is automation, and ensuring that jobs aren’t lost in sectors which could avoid the rise of robotics. Implementing schemes to upskill employees to make sure they aren’t lost as skills shift in the ever-changing technological landscape. Luckily, the government seems to have heard business leaders’ concerns, preparing an industrial strategy to reinforce employees’ versatility and longevity in a sector that is crucial to the economy. AI is likewise predicted to have a big impact in how businesses are run and analysed, with systems becoming smarter, faster, and more aware of what’s going on. The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ will pose challenges the likes of which business owners have never faced before, and as such we will all need data-literate employees who understand what is happening, and what it means.
In more familiar aspects of business, Hammond also announced that he was reducing proposed hikes in business rates, much to the relief of business owners who were set to make a loss. He has also promised to scrap the ‘staircase’ tax, which was set to charge businesses more tax based on whether they are based in offices which use communal stairs or lifts. The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the move, which it estimates will affect 80,000 properties.
With a Government that is at last seeming to understand how important small business is to the UK economy, small businesses may soon be able to enjoy some level of symbiosis, with support from the Government increasing their capabilities and helping propel the UK onto greater things.
To keep up with latest small business news, follow @SmallBizAdvWeek on twitter