A year ago, firms were hoping that 2012 would be the year when the economy turned the corner which led towards recovery.
Looking back, the Queen’s Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games lifted the mood, but also distorted many of the usual patterns of doing business. Enduring one of the wettest years ever recorded also dampened the spirits of many, particularly those firms dependant on sunshine.
But businesses have lots of reasons to look forward to 2013. For many it won’t be an easy year, but there are plenty of signs that it could be better than many of those we’ve experienced recently.
1. Retailers are more positive
new Business Bank, a government initiative to make it simpler for firms to get the finance they need to grow. There’s no timetable as yet, but the government is committed to making progress in the coming months.
Other indicators are suggesting that firms are having more success in getting business loans and other forms of finance approved. In Q3 of 2012, just over 42% of loan applications were getting the green light, but by Q4, this had reached nearly 50%.
3. Outsourcing is getting easier
One of the big costs for smaller firms is staff, because without people, jobs don’t get done. The good news here is that it’s easier than ever to find and hire freelancers, who just get paid for doing a specific job, as and when required.
Sites such as Peopleperhour, Freelancer, Elance and Odesk have made finding competitively priced freelance workers much easier. As a bonus, some firms can also sell their own services through these channels.
4. The housing market looks set to improve
Years of stagnant prices and low sales volumes in the housing market could be behind us, says the Council of Mortgage Lenders, as it looks forward to 2013.
House sales are a useful barometer of economic conditions and figures from late 2012 suggest that purchases by first-time buyers are picking up. This key group have been absent from the market, in meaningful numbers, for some years and their return offers hope of a general improvement.
5. Technology will offer yet more opportunities
Nimble start-ups and forward-thinking established firms will start exploring new markets in 2013, as yet more technological innovations arrive on the High Street.
Windows 8 on mobiles, Google’s Project Glass and voice recognition are just some of the opportunities where commercial application could bring profits and growth in the year ahead.