What are businesses’ objectives for 2019?
The new year is often regarded as an opportunity for businesses to reflect on the past 12 months, to analyse what worked (and what didn’t) and to use those experiences to set fresh objectives for the year ahead.
In fact, according to research from Nucleus Commercial Finance, an overwhelming majority of SMEs (83%) have set goals for 2019.
Only, of course, 2019 is shaping up to be no ordinary year.
So what impact is the political uncertainty having on businesses’ ambitions, and how do your own hopes and expectations for the year ahead compare?
More of the same please
Perhaps the most telling figure is that the most common goal amongst business owners is to maintain the same level of business as they delivered in 2018.
This is the case for 35% of respondents, sending a clear signal that staying steady will equal a job well done in the year ahead.
But there are more ambitious targets out there. More than one in four (27%), for instance, are aiming to deliver greater profit in 2019, with 18% looking to increase staff.
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A further 14% are hoping to launch a new product, with one in ten looking to expand into new international markets (10%) – despite the uncertainty over what international trade will look like post-Brexit.
It is also encouraging that, despite often being a function that gets cut back in times of uncertainty or struggle, 16% of businesses would like to put a renewed focus on brand, marketing or online presence over the next 12 months.
And the fears?
It will come as no surprise that the biggest concern for SME leaders over the next 12 months is Brexit, with more than a quarter of respondents (27%) admitting they were worried about it, according to Nucleus’s research.
Next on this list is the sudden loss of a major client (18%), closely followed by a repeat of the 2008 banking crisis (17%) to further underline the concerns held over the uncertain political and economic climate.
Another 14% harbour concerns over multiple staff losses, a rapid unexpected reputational issue and unexpected environmental issues, such as extreme weather.
In total, 74% admitted to being ‘fearful’ over what the year ahead will hold.
What’s the key?
Whether your own perspective is optimistic, pessimistic or you’re part of the ‘let’s-wait-and-see’ society, the important thing for businesses is to plan ahead.
This may seem easier said than done given the uncertainty that persists, however there are a few steps you can take to achieve this:
Take the time to talk to other people and departments within the business. Share your thoughts and your ideas and gain their opinion – not only on the feasibility of those objectives, but also on the best way to go about achieving them.
The key to any plan is to truly understand how to achieve it. Want to increase customers? Analyse which channels they’re currently coming from and where you’re potentially missing out. Want to improve profits? Take a look at where your expenditure goes and where cutbacks can be made. Want to launch a new product? Conduct market research, identify your target market and look at what your competitors are doing. Make sure the right tactics and strategy is in place.
3. Learn from experiences
Your past performance is so important to any objective-setting, in particular learning from past mistakes (and successes!) to understand what works and what doesn’t. It can also be the driver for your objective setting. Are you losing clients to competitors? Work on your retention strategy. Are you waiting too long for customers to pay? Take a look at your invoicing and credit control process to identify improvements.
We’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Is Brexit affecting your approach to business and objective-setting this year? What other tips would you give to other business owners looking to plan ahead? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.