Small Business New Year message

Thursday January 5th 2017

Gordon Henderson FSB

Gordon Henderson, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

Phew! Thank goodness all of that upheaval in 2016 is at an end. Another incredibly important referendum has changed the economic landscape, and another election campaign is over – for now!

Could 2017 be the year that you decide to take the plunge and set up in business for yourself? You would not be alone. National enterprise agency Business Gateway reported that 2016 was their busiest ever year, with their website seeing a 16% surge in visitor numbers and their free workshops attracting strong demand. Locally the Lothians Business Gateway service was Scotland’s busiest, demonstrating the strength of the entrepreneurial spirit in this region.

The fall in the value of the pound following the Referendum means that we’re all going to see shop prices rise over the next few months, especially on imported goods. Last month, a Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) member told me that his wholesalers were warning of 15% price rises in early 2017, and that the January Sales will be shorter and less generous than before. Slashing your prices in the face of 15% cost increases is hard to do.

Maybe tourism is showing the way forward? Pre-Christmas indications suggest that Scottish tourism businesses are feeling upbeat about the year ahead, perhaps buoyed by both the expected surge in Brits staying at home and foreign tourists taking advantage of the favourable exchange rate to visit. I’m sure this had a lot to do with the decision by a Canadian firm to pay £1.35bn for the UK’s largest holiday parks business in December.

One fantastic local business based here in Midlothian with exciting plans for 2017 is Service Course. They organise corporate cycling experiences under the care of some of Scotland’s top cycling coaches. This year the company is moving into the luxury cycling holiday market and aiming for a 30% increase in turnover. Smart and ambitious – good luck to them!

Small business owners are a resilient lot, they can adapt to economic and political changes and quickly get used to the ‘new normal’. We’re seeing signs of businesses getting used to the new economic landscape and planning for growth in 2017. Let’s hope that it is a Happy New Year for all small business owners.

FSB Federation of Small Businesses

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