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Where do the biggest business opportunities lie for SMEs in 2018?

business-articlesWhere do the biggest business opportunities lie for SMEs in 2018?
The past year has thrown up some interesting challenges and opportunities for UK SMEs. The business landscape in the UK is constantly evolving, which has opened the door to new ventures, audiences and partnerships.

There’s plenty of potential for 2018 to be a great year for the UK’s small businesses. Here’s a look at some of the opportunities up for grabs in the next twelve months.

The industries likely to see strong growth in 2018

Accountants and other financial professionals are likely to enjoy a strong year in 2018, given the numerous ways in which demand for their services is increasing. With more and more people starting their own businesses, the need for start-up financial advice and services is growing rapidly. Established businesses are also looking for help navigating the uncertain future, with a need to get on top of their finances and protect themselves from unexpected shocks.

Advertisers and marketers are also in for a good year, according to research from Group M, a media research company. The organisation predicts that the advertising sector is set to record growth of 4.8% this year, with a client spend of almost £20 billion. Audio visual content creation is destined to do particularly well, after having grown 28% in 2016 and looking likely to have repeated that in 2017, with 14% growth in the first half of the year alone.

While government and corporate building contracts may have slowed in the past few months, rising demand for housebuilding projects has helped the construction industry to remain on a firm footing. The government has committed to building 1 million new homes by 2020 and has a target of 250,000 to hit this year. The Construction Projects Association claims that this could contribute to revenue growth of 23% this year, contributing £12 billion to the UK economy.

Tourism is again set to thrive in 2018, although the growth seen in the sector won’t be anywhere near as impressive as the 11.6% year-on-year increase witnessed during 2017. According to visit Britain there will be 41.7 million visits to the UK this year - up 4.4% on last year - with a 6.8% increase in visitor spending to £26.9 billion.

What sectors may be under threat in 2018?

Unfortunately, wherever there are winners, there are also losers. 2018 can’t be a great year for everyone – although those who prepare and have a clear strategy in place will have done everything they can to avoid risk.
According to the KPMG/Ipsos Retail think tank, the retail sector could flat line during the coming year – and that’s the best-case scenario. Analysts predict issues such as weak consumer spending, regulatory compliance issues and high prices will create problems.

The car industry could also face a tough time. On top of the obvious Brexit issues, a clampdown on diesel vehicles is also expected to hit the sector hard. According to SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes, the move was not causing consumers to buy electric cars, as intended, but simply not to buy a new vehicle at all.

While tourism is expected to continue on a strong footing, things might not be so rosy for the hotel sector. According to a report by PwC, growth is expected to slow this year. This is partly due to weaker economic growth cutting the demand for corporate travel, even if personal travel remains strong.

Will online selling become even more popular in 2018?

As retailers released their sales figures for the 2017 Christmas period, one thing became clear: an increasing number of shoppers prefer to stay at home and make the purchases over the Internet.

Retail footfall fell sharply during the festive season, resulting in slower than expected sales volumes for many bricks and mortar stores belonging to the larger chains.

Yet those same retailers reported a large rise in online sales, suggesting that the UK consumer continues to splash out.

Indeed, according to the Centre for Retail Research, online retail sales will likely account for 21.5% of all transactions - up from 12.7% in 2012. Meanwhile high-street stores are expected to see their share of consumer spending dropped to 40.2%, compared to 50% in 2000.

Protect yourself from the threats to capitalise on the opportunities in 2018

A clear strategy will help you to not only manage risk but reap the most rewards from the opportunities afforded to you. This is just as true if your business is exposed to currency market fluctuation. Use our risk management options to keep your cash flow visibility high and your bottom line protected as you seek out new opportunities this year.

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