2019 looks set to be a turbulent year for the UK, and self-employed people will be on the front line.
There’s political and economic uncertainty, but the new year will also bring opportunities and exciting developments that the country’s small business owners may be able to use to their advantage.
So, from the economic big picture to your own financials, what will 2019 have in store for the self-employed in the UK?
Regardless of what happens in March, Brexit will loom large in the year to come. Business leaders have expressed concern about political stability in the UK, and its impact on freelancers, the self-employed, and British small businesses.
It seems impossible to make concrete predictions about what the year will hold: will there be a general election? A new government? Will the transition period be extended? Whatever happens, uncertainty will continue for the foreseeable future.
Again, it's hard to make predictions. But businesses of every size and in every sector should be ready in case there's a downward shift in the UK economy. The European Commission has forecast that the UK will grow at the joint slowest rate of any European country in 2019, before falling to the very bottom of the table in 2020.
If they're right, forward planning will be essential for self-employed people wanting to minimise the impact of a downturn, especially if they're in consumer-facing industries.
But what about some of the more day-to-day issues you face? Every self-employed person needs to be thinking about marketing, and this essential part of running a business is set to change significantly. There'll be a continued shift towards digital channels, but the way you might interact with your customers or clients online will look different in the future.
Smart speakers and chatbots are likely to be particularly big news, with new avenues opening up to business owners who want innovative and novel ways to reach new customers. And, importantly, this tech won't just be for big companies – a key trend in 2019 will be the opening up of these ways of marketing to UK businesses of all types and sizes, including the very smallest micro-entrepreneurs.
There’s been talk of a shift in conventional working patterns for a while now, but some commentators believe that 2019 will be the year we see the beginning of the end of the five-day week. Flexible working is just the start – could this be the year that shorter working hours really take off?
Trust and transparency have become key considerations for every developing business – but also for society at large. In a world of Cambridge Analytica and hacking scandals, the public has become increasingly demanding of transparency amongst the firms they deal with.
A willingness to be completely open with your customers or clients may soon be seen not as a nice extra, but as an absolute necessity.
And finally, a bit of financial nitty-gritty. Open Banking is a new set of rules and technology that make it much easier for individuals to access and control their own financial information.
As the year goes on, we’ll see more and more apps and tools using the power of Open Banking to allow you to better understand your financial position, make more informed choices, and plan more accurately for the future.
Plucky banking startups like Monzo and Starling Bank are throwing resources into making the most of Open Banking, but regardless of who you bank with you can expect to have the opportunity for a better insight into where your money is going in 2019 and beyond.
What are your top predictions for the self-employed in 2019? Let us know in the comments below.
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