It’s fair to say that 2016 has been a year of uncertainty for North West businesses, with political and economic events, such as the EU referendum, affecting firms.
But despite the uncertainty, the North West seems to have thrived over the past few months, with the latest PMI report finding that business activity and new orders both grew in November, and employment hit a five month high.
To ensure that businesses continue to thrive during 2017 and beyond, it’s vital that they make, and start to implement, plans now.
Like all resolutions, the targets that business leaders set themselves should be achievable and realistic, and I’ve outlined my top resolutions that I will be discussing with my clients in the New Year.
Top five business resolutions for the New Year
Visit new places – The northern powerhouse is creating numerous opportunities for businesses, both at home and overseas, and recent research from Deloitte found that 53 per cent of all investments between the UK and US since 2013 have taken place in the North West.
The weak pound also means that now could be the ideal opportunity for businesses to start exploring international opportunities.
Some company leaders, however, can be nervous about exporting for the first time. With this in mind we have recently launched the International Trade Portal as part of our partnership with the Department for International Trade. It’s a tool that can help businesses identify new opportunities and break into new markets.
Make more plans – At the beginning of the year, it’s vital to make a realistic plan that outlines the company’s achievable targets.
Once the plan is made, business leaders must regularly review their targets and strategy, making sure that they are constantly adapting to the changing environment around them.
Surround yourself with the right people – Speaking to business leaders across the region, the current skills shortage is causing concern for many, and research we carried out recently found that 51 per cent believe that it’s affecting growth.
At Lloyds Bank, we are working closely with companies to ensure they have the correct guidance and funding support to recruit people with right skills.
Embrace new opportunities – The development of new technologies is showing no signs of slowing down, and it’s vital that companies capitalise on the new opportunities that adopting new technologies can create.
In the manufacturing sector particularly, the development of connected devices, robotics and artificial intelligence is revolutionising the way that businesses operate.
Despite this, some companies are not actively investing in new machinery because they are unaware of the finance available, and are concerned how it will affect their day-to-day cashflow.
Asset finance facilities allow companies to spread the cost of payments so investing in new technology doesn't damage available working capital. Trade finance facilities are ideal for companies that need to buy machinery from overseas, helping them to bridge the payment and giving them the confidence to import items securely.
Get your finances into shape – To implement new plans and expand effectively, it’s vital that companies have a funding package that is exactly tailored to their needs.
A trusted finance adviser or banking partner will be able to help firms find a deal that is right for them, and at Lloyds Bank we have a team of relationship managers who can provide guidance and support to businesses that are looking to capitalise on new opportunities.
2017 holds many opportunities for companies, and I wish them all a prosperous and enjoyable New Year.