Emile Stuy, Export Director, Anker Stuy Coatings Ltd, Peterborough
As a Dutch businessman with a company in the UK, I predict that there will be some hysterical weeks coming up after the official Brexit moment. This will, of course, be stirred by the media as it will receive a lot of attention.
But with a proper deal, Brexit will not be as unclear as it would have been without a deal. That would have caused many more problems. Now customs and custom related organization will be able to adopt and adjust to the new standards.
Also, I don’t believe the UK will impose tariffs on our sector. The focus there will be agriculture, fishing and livestock.
The economy will struggle, I’m sure, during the coming year, but in the long term I expect it will grow because the UK will have much more flexibility over making trade agreements and investing in sectors where previously it was restricted.
I also think Sterling will recover – it is already doing so.
For companies that export from the UK to the EU, it will get a bit more difficult, because there will be more paperwork and maybe restrictions on some articles.
Francis Pledger, Director, React Computer Partnership, Woodbridge, Suffolk
Hopefully a government with a working majority will give people confidence that a functioning government will let us get back to normal trading conditions in 2020. However, there is likely to be some nervousness over how changing the terms of trade with our major partner will affect things.
East Anglia is a vibrant place to do business, benefiting as it does from close links with Europe and, here, the Cambridge Innovation Hub.
While this is excellent for businesses, the region does also suffer from having just one main transport link, the A14. Yes, the road is being improved in Cambridgeshire, but it doesn’t take much to cause significant traffic disruptions for the whole area.
From an IT perspective, people will use more cloud services in 2020. That is an excellent way of improving business productivity, as software is available at low monthly cost. This does need to be balanced though with the increasing threat of cyber-crime which, although recognised, is largely underestimated.
Hayley Mace, Head of Communications, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership
I believe businesses should be optimistic – political uncertainty is nothing new and if you are making a great product or delivering a first-class service, your customers will always need you.
You may need to adapt and invest in capital or technology but there are great opportunities to reach new domestic markets and there’s lots of support available to help business continue to grow.
Our flagship grant scheme – the Growing Business Fund – allocated grants worth over £3.9m to businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk last year and programmes like that continue to provide match funding for firms wanting to grow and invest.
I think one of the challenges which many businesses will start to set for themselves over the coming year will be around sustainability and clean growth. This will certainly be a theme which continues to pose opportunities and challenges and it is already interesting to see lots of companies making innovations in this area.
Neil Miles,Chief Executive, Inawisdom, Adastral Park, Ipswich
I’ve been asked if there are any challenges to running a business in East Anglia and the answer is no. Good things have happened here, but as with any region we can’t stand still.
We need to keep driving forwards in terms of finance, infrastructure and skills to ensure that Inawisdom as a company and East Anglia as a region remain at the forefront of what we do.
I don’t see anything different about the coming decade for Britain, operating under our own aspirations. As a business, we see great opportunities ahead and they are there for us to grasp – we mustn’t let any concerns about Brexit distract us.
Some people see barriers that aren’t there. This region is well-placed to capitalise on the automation of technology and the greater use of data. The opportunities are there – we just need to grab them!
Geert Kooi, Vice-President, Operations, Proserv Controls, Great Yarmouth
One of the key criteria for success in the energy industry is having the agility to respond to economic, geopolitical or technological disruption and so remaining at the forefront of competitiveness.
In upstream oil and gas, if factors negatively impact hydrocarbon prices, a service company must anticipate what this will mean to corporate strategy and adjust its own business model accordingly, with the same dexterity that it would use in a boom.
Last year was one of change for Proserv, as we restructured to form two global facing divisions, Proserv Controls and Gilmore, a Proserv Company, so, as we commence 2020, we are firmly focused on developing controls technologies to directly reflect client needs.
The wider industry is also undergoing dynamic changes and the energy transition promises a wealth of opportunities. To meet future demands, we are working alongside key partners to generate controls solutions for the offshore renewables market.
Jacqueline Hall, founder of DALE Coaching
Despite lots of uncertainty, I think 2020 will be a good year for small businesses. But with success comes the need for reflection.
As business leaders face the challenges ahead, it’s important that they put the health and well-being of their teams front of mind. This means taking the time to talk to employees, develop personal development plans with proper objectives, and listen to the concerns of their staff.
Business owners should also consider the cost-benefit of up-skilling employees in terms of identifying which people in their teams are capable and willing to learn new skills.
Finally, business owners should reflect on their own leadership style and think about whether it’s aligned with the way they want to take their business forward.