Change, challenge and opportunities: Strategic insights for SMEs in 2024

07 February 2024

From financial markets to advancing technology and shifts in societal values, there’s a lot at play this year. But what should business owners be factoring into their plans throughout 2024?

Sophie Kwiatkowski discusses key considerations for SMEs throughout this upcoming year.

2023 was another year of change. From fluctuating energy costs to increasing interest and tax rates. All of these ongoing changes have had an impact on SMEs.

And with a general election on the horizon, the business community is likely to be impacted further. To make sure your business is in the best position possible to face any challenges head on and to seize opportunities, here are some key considerations to keep in mind.

Prepare for the unknown

Significant revisions to ONS statistics show that the UK’s economy has bounced back and surpassed pre-pandemic levels. While these numbers paint a positive picture of resilience, owner managers still need to be proactive and be prepared for the unexpected. The situation on the ground doesn’t always marry up with these top-line figures being reported.

Businesses are set to bear the brunt of higher interest rates for longer than expected. Although inflation rates are expected to fall this year, target levels aren't predicted to be met until Q4. It will take longer still for the ripple effect to filter down to daily life.

So as a business owner, what does this mean for you and your plans? How can you plan for the unknown?


Seize funding opportunities

Cash will remain king.

Seizing the opportunities that are out there will help you to build your reserves.

It’s worth looking into the funding opportunities which are offered by the Government and/or your local authority. Opportunities and competitions for grants and loans are constantly cropping up and drawing to a close, so make sure you stay up to date with what’s on offer their respective websites and by speaking to your advisors.


Purpose meets profit

In 2023, corporate social responsibility crept up the agenda of many business owners. We are seeing stakeholders holding businesses accountable for their impact on their staff, their community, and the wider environment.

It’s time to start reviewing the CSR and social purpose policies and practices you have in place. The best way to make an impact is to have clear, achievable goals that have a purpose behind them.

If you’re not sure where to begin – then let the research commence! Look to others for inspiration for your new strategy, or for improving the one you've already got. Speak to your team and the wider community and find out what would impact them.

The main point to consider here is to ensure that you are doing everything with purpose, not just for the sake of PR and bolstering your reputation. People will see through this. Some of the biggest brands have been called out on greenwashing over the last few years, so it is worth taking the time to ensure what you put on paper matches the ethos of your business.


Holding on to your talent

Recruitment and retention continues to be a key priority for businesses across the UK. To achieve great client service and keep successful business relationships you need a great team who embody your values and have the right mix of skills.

If you already have this, that doesn’t mean the job is done. In the current marketplace, constantly assessing what your business has to offer is essential to staying ahead. Focus not just on your remuneration package but also the benefits that will make your business stand out. Whether that be a focus on work-life balance, health, or childcare support.

You’ll never truly know what benefits make a difference to your employees until you ask them. Collate feedback on what you’re doing well, where you can improve, and what your team members actually want. There are many tax-efficient ways of meeting your employees’ needs. These are best discussed with a trusted tax advisor.


Keeping up with AI

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times by now, but AI is becoming part of our everyday. The concept can be unsettling, but to stay ahead in 2024 you’ll need to find out how you can use it to your advantage.

Cloud accounting utilises AI capabilities to provide real-time financial information. This is everything from your current financial position to creating future forecasts to inform your strategy. Having all this information in one place provides easy access to useful metrics at any time. With change on the horizon, using AI will help you stay ahead and seize any new opportunities with confidence.



Helping your business thrive in 2024

With so much to consider already this year, planning ahead can seem overwhelming. But there’s no need to go it alone.

Our team of experts are here to act as a sounding board for advice and to help you map out the year ahead. Whether it’s growing your business, drilling down into your cash flow or helping you face challenges head on, we’re here to support you.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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