Brexit uncertainty. Troubled times for the high street. Political uncertainty around the world. You’d be forgiven for thinking that running a small business is an impossible task these days.
Yet many businesses are surviving and thriving as we head into 2019. Whether it’s cake making or painting and decorating, plumbing or consultancy work, running an office or running a farm shop, retailing or providing services – small business is part of the backbone of society, and we are proud to be able to insure such a diverse range of people.
So what are the main challenges for businesses next year, and what can you do to help make sure that 2019 is a successful year for your business?
Business hates uncertainty, and these are very uncertain times. Will Theresa May’s Brexit plan be agreed by parliament? Will there be a second referendum – and if so, what will be the question? Will we crash out of the EU with no deal at all? And what does this all mean?
Trying to predict what will happen next is foolish, though planning ahead for the different scenarios might well be worthwhile.
Many businesses rely on some kind of relationship with European business partners, or will employ staff from EU countries; others will deal exclusively in domestic markets, and might not think any of this will affect them at all.
However, if the UK economy does not grow as quickly after leaving the EU (as prominent economists have forecast), then even businesses dealing solely with UK customers might feel the pinch.
How Brexit will ultimately impact business is a very difficult question to answer right now, though 2019 should start to serve up some answers as our departure date from the EU looms nearer.
All eyes are on the government to see what might happen next; for now, spend some time thinking about how your business can plan for updated customs, altered supply chains, product compliance changes, and new contracts or permits for employees.
In addition, sign up for government-issued email alerts regarding Brexit by clicking here. If the status quo does continue for a while, you will at least be prepared for change when it happens.
Cyber security is seen as one of the biggest risks facing businesses in 2019, with 66% of respondents in a recent report citing this as one of the top five risks faced by their business.
Smaller business owners should consider these important things:
- Staying safe on the cloud—Many businesses have transitioned to using the cloud for data services. However, Microsoft reported that the number of attacks on cloud-based accounts quadrupled in 2017, largely due to poor password management and phishing scams. If you store information online, it’s crucial to make sure that you use strong passwords that are difficult to guess and don’t fall foul of those who try to extract important information from you via email or phone calls.
- Securing your supply chain—Nearly 60 percent of organisations experienced a cyber-attack that was caused by a supplier in 2017. Be sure that your business bolsters their entire supply chain with proper data protection initiatives.
Staying compliant with legislation is something all businesses – no matter their size – should be aware of. Not complying with rules and regulations can have severe consequences, including costly fines and damage to your reputation.
Perhaps the most obvious risk comes from GDPR. GDPR was largely unheard of before 2018 – now, everyone is aware of it and the tide of opt-in/opt-out communications prompted since it was implemented early this year. Even so, more than 25 percent of businesses state they won’t be fully compliant by the end of 2018, according to TrustArc.
If you hold any customer data or market to your customers in any way, then make sure you follow the compliance tips on the ICO website to make sure your business is compliant.
In a day and age when circumstances can change quickly, ensuring the continuity of your business is very important.
You may want to think about what will happen if your vehicle is off the road for a period of time, your premises suffer some kind of damage, your tools or stock are stolen or damaged, or your supply chain is affected in some way. It pays to have a contingency plan in place so that, should the worst happen, you can get back up and running quickly.
And it’s not just physical risks that you need to think about now. As mentioned before, cyber security is so important these days, with data breaches and problems with accessing systems potentially having devastating consequences for businesses of all sizes.
Bollington can help with business continuity insurance, cyber insurance and risk management, and we will be looking at ways of further reducing risks and putting continuity plans in place during 2019.
Lots of opportunities ahead
As is always the case, businesses will find a way to continue trading and advancing, often using changes in technology or legislation to their advantage. It’s important to note the risks to be able to react quickly and stay ahead of the competition.
Where there are risks, there will continue to be opportunities. Make sure your business is on the front foot and takes care of any issues that might affect you before they happen.
Bollington will be on-hand through 2019 to help you with affordable, good quality insurance and risk management solutions that allow your business to trade with confidence.