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What Are The Biggest Threats Facing UK Businesses in 2019?


April 10, 2019
What Are The Biggest Threats Facing UK Businesses in 2019?

The second quarter of 2019 has begun, and we’re still dealing with Brexit and the same other economic uncertainties from 2016! But while it’s important to focus on those issues, we’re missing out on discussing the other concerns that are equally affecting British businesses.

To help you plan for the future, we wanted to provide a brief overview of what we consider to be the biggest challenges and threats facing UK businesses in 2019.

Brexit

The 12th April is the latest proposed departure date, but it’s unclear if this will be the final deadline. What is known, however, is that businesses still have little idea as to what to expect. Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, Dr Adam Marshall, claimed that business communities still have “little sense” of Brexit’s destination.

He cited the independent surveys ran by the Chambers of Commerce, which had indicated that business figures were at their worst in nearly a decade. Ultimately, though, now isn’t the time to overreact. Businesses can’t afford to suddenly ramp up their development, nor should they suddenly cease hiring and start trading on a shoestring budget.

The complete absence of direction isn’t likely to change soon, so UK businesses will need to continue growing as best they can. Tools are available to keep organisations afloat – the Business Brexit Checklist should be used wherever possible to ensure you’re doing the best you can to steer clear of economic uncertainty.

Cybercrime

Often used to scare businesses into having more secure passwords, now this ominous word is being presented in big red letters on billboards and bus stops. It’s not surprising then that cybercrime makes our list, but what is significant is that few people really understand how it can affect them.

It was recently announced by the Office of National Statistics that people were more likely to be a victim of cybercrime and fraud than any other crime. The figures were found between March 2017 and March 2018 and include approximately 1.24 million computer misuse offences and 1.7 million incidents of cyber-related fraud. In that same period, almost half of UK businesses and 20% of charities suffered a cyberattack or security breach.

Despite the UK police force spending £1.3 million in training, the cyber crisis continues – while leading voice in digital policing, Stephen Kavanagh, claims the whole thing to be completely “avoidable”. Businesses and franchises alike need to be more conscious of how they operate online, and the systems they have in place, in order to protect themselves.

The government has recently ramped up their efforts in educating business owners after significant attacks on both the private and public sector in the last few years. Putting together a complete guide for small businesses with tips and tricks to stay safe, the government has recognised the immense damage that hacking can cause the British public and have consequently taken the steps towards educating them.

Skills shortages

While it might not strike everyone as a threat, for some organisations, not being able to acquire talent means not being able to grow. If your business model depends on skilled workers that you can’t train yourself, then the likelihood is that 2019 will produce a smaller talent pool than usual.

In a report from Allianz, a shortage of skilled workers now sits at number 7 in the UK’s top 10 business risks, and globally at number 10. As Brexit is limiting the movement of contractors, UK businesses are set to lose out on experienced workers from Europe.

According to the Open University, the skills shortage is costing UK organisations £6.3 billion. Consequently, 70% of senior business leaders are finding that the recruitment process is taking longer. A further 63% have found that this means they have been spending more on recruitment, with costs increasing by almost double.

For both franchises and businesses, if you’re looking to grow in 2019, you may need more patience and funding than ever before. Be conscious of your development plans – don’t over-employ, and identify the talent you need well in advance so you can prepare a recruitment strategy ahead of time.

Evolving customer expectations

We’re living through a time where AI and robotics are a serious part of our workforce. But with these advances, we’ve set a precedent for the immediacy that these technologies bring.

For instance, with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Airbnb, we have created an expectancy that a solution can be delivered – wherever, whenever – instantly. This is known as the ‘on-demand economy’, and businesses that can’t offer a service online are deemed too slow.

However, SaaS businesses and developments in software have allowed some sectors to flourish. For instance, retail has since seen a dramatic rise in the number of customers for some high-street stores. They have been able to assess the demand for a product, streamline the shopping process, and create 24/7 engagement with their brand.

This technology has advanced practical roles too. For the likes of specialist cleaning and restoration businesses, for example, the tools that our franchisees use to detect leaks are second to none. By having the latest technology, competitors are unable to offer a service that rivals ours and we can better attract customers as a result.

Use modern technology to draw in clients and prospective employees, and simultaneously guide the way you work. Don’t resist industry change for the sake of tradition; allow technology to give your customers the ideal service experience.

These four areas of change may be threatening the way some businesses are operating, but there is still plenty of room for companies to find innovative ways around it. By sustainably growing during economic uncertainty, keeping protective measures in place against cybercrime and embracing technology wherever possible, you can push your business forward in 2019.

While we believe these to be the big challenges of this year, we’d love to know what you think businesses should be focused on! Get in touch over on our Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn page.