UK small business trends in 2016 - 4 predictions for the coming year

With January done and dusted we’ve done some crystal ball gazing, to predict what the rest of 2016 will bring…

We recently rounded up the small business trends of 2015, looking back over a year that saw the number of small businesses blossom and Brighton crowned as the country’s entrepreneurial hotspot.

But what will 2016 bring? Debate is already raging about the EU referendum this summer and what the outcome could mean for British businesses.

Regardless of which way it eventually goes, businesses will be forced to consider their relationship to the Continent and weigh up the pros and cons of EU membership.

As for what else 2016 has in store for small business, here are some of our predictions.

Small businesses get bigger

A feeling of confidence amongst small businesses means that many are set to expand this year.

Buoyed by the UK’s economic recovery, around 1.35 million SMEs plan to grow in 2016.

However, the number of businesses that actually manage to do so may be much lower: nearly a third of those hoping to expand need to borrow money, and finding finance is still proving tricky. The fact that banks are removing small business overdrafts isn’t likely to help matters.

But a desire to grow coupled with a frustration with banks could mean that in 2016 we’ll see businesses exploring less conventional methods of raising money. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending are amongst the options.

Increase in online shops

The shift towards shopping online is set to continue in 2016, and since they’re generally quicker and easier to set up than their high street counterparts, we’re bound to see a boom.

eCommerce web platforms continue to improve, and 2016 is likely to bring a proliferation of new features and apps, in particular capitalising on the ever-increasing use of mobile devices.

Check out our article on how to start an online shop if you’re planning to launch an eCommerce business this year.

Tradesmen in high demand

As the economy continues to improve, the number of buy-to-let property purchases increases and people try to get back on their feet after the recent flooding, tradesmen may find their phones ringing off the hook.

An ongoing skills shortage means that there may not be enough builders, decorators and bricklayers to keep up with demand.

As a result, in 2016 many tradesmen will probably be picky about the work they take and may put their prices up. The shortage may also slow down the rate at which new homes can be built.

All of this is good news if you’re a tradesman, of course. And if you’re not, 2016 may be the year to start training…

More crazy weather

We’re not going to claim to have the predictive powers of the Met Office, but if the last few years are anything to go by, we can safely predict that 2016’s weather will be… well, unpredictable.

A string of storms battered the UK at the end of 2015 and into the beginning of 2016, and many businesses have been coping with flooding and storm damage as a result.

The government have said that they expect the trends of drier summers and wetter winters to continue, and have tentatively accepted that climate change may have had a role to play in the recent flooding. Unfortunately, this means we probably haven’t seen the last of the storms.

For advice on keeping your business safe this year, check out our business hubpage and make sure you’ve got your business insurance sorted.

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