We continue our series in which Lincolnshire Today Magazine invites business leaders from across the region to offer up their predictions for the year ahead.
Whilst forecasting is an unpredictable science at best and, to the best of our knowledge, none of us actually own a crystal ball – it is uncanny how close these predictions have been in previous years.
Here, we catch up with James Pinchbeck, Marketing Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants to see what he has to say about 2018.
“2017 seems to have flown by, with perhaps little to differentiate the end of the year from its beginning. Theresa May is still our Prime Minster and Donald Trump is still in the Whitehouse. And, for businesses in particular, uncertainty is very much the driver for, or not for, change; or investment or optimism for that matter.
“So, what can we expect in 2018? It might not be unrealistic to say, more of the same, with uncertainly being a certainty.
“The biggest impact favourable or otherwise, not just for businesses in the East Midlands, must be around the next wave of Brexit negotiations and the deal the UK government can negotiate around trade and customs agreements. The crux will be the time it takes to reach any agreements, and the time that businesses have to consider their impact, along with perhaps the need to put in place any transition arrangements. With only 15 months left before we leave the EU, it is hoped the next round of negotiations are much quicker than the first.
“For many local businesses there does seem a real challenge facing them around the ability to attract and recruit labour. Perhaps a mix of workforce and skills shortages along with continued pressures on margins will give rise to the need for businesses to focus on productivity. Whilst a business strategy of treading water or business as usual may have worked in the past, interest rates rises, inflation and perhaps pending wage pressure, along with highly competitive markets may necessitate the need for more innovative strategic transformation.
“On a more local level, we anticipate further exciting growth in the region’s emerging market for those engaged in digital technology – with both expansion of those businesses already operating in the sector as well as new ones starting out. Our region’s manufacturers too, could continue to enjoy growth in overseas trade – the result of producing goods in demand, but also being able to capitalise on a weak pound.
“Perhaps too, we will see even greater numbers of people opting for self employment as opposed to employment; a trend which, in the last 5 years, has seen a 20% increase nationally as the number of self employed rose to just over 4.5m.”