New year. Deja Vu. – By Chris Manson, CEO Newable
Although it is a brand new year, from a business headline perspective it is pretty safe to assume 2017 is going to feel a lot like 2016.
One subject will dominate: Brexit. (OK, with Trump doing his best to trump things.) And thats fair enough as Brexit is an epoch defining event. Whilst whatever you think of Mr Trumps pretty newsworthy.
Welcome to 2017.
In 2017, Brexit will start for real. Or not. Brexit will rumble on, in hard or soft fashion, for one, two or even ten years. As with all things Brexit, uncertainty reigns supreme. This uncertain environment allows commentators to identify either huge opportunity or impending catastrophe and make both outcomes appear equally plausible.
All this matters, a lot, for large enterprises and multi-nationals. It really matters when you’re facing decisions about whether or where to build your next car plant. Or whether to commit to a pharma R&D programme which might see fruition with a product on shelf in the middle of the next decade. Unsurprisingly it is these kinds of decisions that have been dominating the news agenda and will no doubt continue to in 2017.
However, there is a bigger news story out there. It is one that’s not really being covered. It is this: Brexit simply doesn’t impact on most business people in the UK. This is because most business people in the UK actually work in, manage, or own small and medium sized companies.
What matters to many SMEs is far more pressing and prosaic than trade treaties which might have a gestation period of 10 or more years. The business and planning cycle for SMEs is rather shorter than for the business behemoths who dominate the news cycle. Top of the agenda for SMEs is ensuring that there is sufficient cash in the business to cover payroll and other overheads for the next few months. Accessing the finance they need to fuel expansion this year. Finding new premises to support their growth. Opening up new markets at home and abroad in the here and now. Developing innovative new products. Employing and training more and more people. Managing exchange rate fluctuations
Whilst this isn’t making the headlines, it should. SME’s – defined as companies with fewer than 250 employees – make up a staggering 99.9% of all companies in the UK. SMEs employ over 15.3m people, which is over 60% of all private sector employment. The combined annual turnover of SMEs was £1.8 trillion in 2015. SMEs are the lynchpins of local economies. They are the wellspring of new ideas and innovation. They are the future large-scale enterprises. Yet their voice is seldom heard in the clamour of the political machinations around Brexit. Policymakers and Government should take note.
So in 2017, Newable is committed to doing just what we did in 2016: helping to unleash the enormous potential of SMEs. Newable will do this by helping business people access Start Up loans, finance for growth, affordable workspaces, export advice, digital enablement services, expertise specially geared to helping entrepreneurs commercialise their innovation, consultancy to keep their data secure and their IP protected. Standing up for SMEs and the men and women behind them.
owever, like our clients and customers, we have ambitious plans. That’s why in 2017 we’ll be introducing a series of new products and services designed to serve more businesses, more broadly. Watch this space.
This is not to say that Brexit doesn’t matter: of course it does. However, we recognise what matters more for SMEs is the here and now. The business year doesn’t start or end on the day Article 50 is eventually triggered, it starts today.