...With a Chance of Adventure
Running a small business has always taken strong nerves and the tenacity of a pit bull. Running - or even starting - one in the eerie silence after a major financial crisis requires something more. With businesses all over the world nervously checking the ground under their feet, it's worth taking a moment to look realistically at the situation. It turns out things may not be as catastrophic as some are suggesting. In fact, the more intrepid business adventurers are already starting to hammer the dents out of their battered optimism. There are more of them than ever, too. An incredible 581,173 new businesses were launched in the UK in 2014, which was a 10.4% increase over the previous year and the third year in a row that the number of new start-ups has risen!
Britain's economic growth generally slowed down a little in the last months of 2014, dropping from 0.7% in the previous quarter to 0.5% - which some are calling more of a suspicious birthmark you should probably get checked out than a "growth" at all. However, looking at the wider context, it still places the UK at its highest overall growth rate since 2007 for the entire year. It's not the kind of momentum a lot of businesses were hoping for, but the Office of National Statistics reports that Britain's overall 2.6% growth for 2014 puts it on track to have been the world's fastest-growing major advanced economy that year!
It's also important to remember that we're not talking about a universal, disastrous failure to recover, either. The end of 2014 was more like a slightly disappointing Christmas present from a confused but well meaning uncle. Some business types (construction, for example) were more disheartened than others - and the retail and services sectors actually stayed pretty buoyant about the whole thing. On the whole, the UK economy is now actually 3.4% larger than its peak before the financial crisis hit. It's definitely taking longer than we'd hoped to get where we're going, but we're still heading in the right direction.
Looking at the South East specifically, small business owners have been gritting their teeth, popping their collars and getting set to tough out the recovery in style. They know how to focus on their goals and their eyes are always set on the road ahead for chasms to leap and opportunities to seize. They understand the benefits of innovation and their resilience owes a lot to the adventurer's spirit in their hearts. The South East is a good place to be right now, with support and investment coming in from both government and business. Theme parks are being built, sea fronts renovated and unemployment is dropping as more and more businesses are looking to expand their horizons.
Of course, there's no adventure without risk. With a general election looming and no clear front-runner, the business community as a whole may start to get a little twitchy in the next few months. Whatever the result, it's pretty clear that there's no easy ride for small business. Investment and support from the government have been strong lately, and alternative funding options are taking hold where traditional lenders are turning smaller businesses away simply because they don't know how to assess the risks involved. For every door that closes, small businesses are bursting one open, building a new one or simply breaking down the walls themselves. Hope and audacity are alive and well, but the climate is still stormy and no-one's getting through this on pure optimism and blind faith in their dreams. That tenacity needs to be matched with the strategy and agility to convert simple survival into lasting success.
The whole economy of the South East is changing rapidly, with the Kent and Medway Growth Deal aiming to invest £80 million per year over the next six years in the area. Traditional industries and models are receding, while entirely new ways of doing business are emerging too fast for conventional institutions to understand or even recognise them. The waters are still turbulent and the weather unpredictable, but with RIFT Accounting as the lighthouse and lookout for your enterprise, you've got the brightest beacon in the business to guide you.