With leaders across all of the UK nations considering lifting restrictions, experts at Business in Focus, were asked to provide their thoughts on what the next steps for Businesses in Wales could be.
Katy Chamberlain, Chief Executive:
While business confidence was on the rise following strong progress with vaccinations, the new variants and related restrictions are putting a damper on things, at least for a while – but business people in Wales are still finding ways to make the best of their circumstances. Every day our friendly, professional advisers are helping people to turn their ideas into a successful business, diversify their existing business to respond to conditions or seize an opportunity to grow. And for those who need safe, flexible accommodation, we are helping people to find the space they need in our offices, workshops and Enterprise Hubs to achieve their ambitions. We are proud to be supporting Welsh businesses to tackle the challenges and come out winning.
Howard Jacobson, Specialist Advisor:
Buyers spend over 6 billion pounds in Wales every year, of which 80% are smaller opportunities and they are calling out for local SMEs to add to their supply chains. I’m working closely with Sell2Wales and buyers across Wales to support this objective. There is a detailed programme of short, easy to understand workshops available to Welsh SMEs including ‘How To Tender' workshops and 121 support on how to access these opportunities. The Quick Quotes system provides businesses with a simplified system to promote their service or goods and receive email alerts about the latest requirements. I advise businesses to use their Sell2Wales Public Profile to increase their chances of being invited to a Quick Quote and enable buyers to easily find their company via the Sell2Wales Supplier Finder search tool. Search the Business Wales Events Finder web page to find out how your business can benefit from this invaluable support.
Gareth Jones, Property Manager:
Business space requirements have changed and will continue to do so as occupiers reflect on the lessons of the last 18 months. We have always promoted lease flexibility as a critical requirement for any occupier and this is perhaps truer now than ever. At Business in Focus we have a portfolio of business space to suit a wide range of occupier requirements, presenting opportunities to both our existing and potential new tenants. We can help them flex their space having had the chance to reflect on the enormous challenges they have faced.
Holly Jones, Focus Enterprise Hub Newtown Manager:
Enterprise Hubs have been pivotal in filling a gap in business support services over the course of the pandemic. They bring a fresh approach to business support by swiftly adapting to the needs in their region, providing innovative workshops and staying ahead of modern business trends, all with community values at the heart of their service. With changing work patterns and a move towards less in-office working more people are looking for self-employment or home-working opportunities. The Hub co-working facilities and virtual events provide a space for community collaboration where aspiring and existing entrepreneurs can share ideas, problems and solutions creating a more unified front for businesses to stay ahead and keep afloat.
Jill Walters, Business Contracts Manager:
During the pandemic, Business in Focus provided £5,033,040 funding through Start Up Loans which enabled people to start their business and support those that had to diversify to survive. We see this continuing through next year and we will play a vital role supporting the economy to rebuild after the impact of Covid-19 by providing funding and wider support for people starting up their own business for the first time. Global shortages of many goods will also be a challenge for some businesses in the coming months and we anticipate further diversification in certain sectors as the impacts are felt.
Hayley Vincent, International Trade Advisor:
Global lockdowns and border closures impacted both imports and exports of goods and services severely throughout 2020. As companies move towards recovery from the pandemic, international trade remains vital to Welsh business and to the Welsh economy. As an international trade advisor at Business Wales my role in supporting businesses to overcome barriers to international trade is key in ensuring no business fails in achieving their growth goals. Many E-commerce businesses have continued to thrive throughout the pandemic and enquiries for both imports and exports have increased, which is a great sign that businesses are starting to plan ahead. Hopefully as we progress through the second half of the year we will continue to see an upward trend for both imports and exports.
Sarah Cockwill, Business Development Manager:
SMEs are the backbone of our economy and have felt the pain of the pandemic most severely.
Current challenges to business health include plunging demand, inflexible supply chains and the ever-increasing importance of technology, coupled with a post-Brexit marketplace, so accessing the right support has never been more relevant. Our team of experienced and highly qualified Business Advisors at Business in Focus can support any Welsh business. We are here to help your business become more resilient, to ease the pain of recovery and help you to thrive and grow. Whether just starting up or with growth ambitions there has never been a greater opportunity to access state-supported financial help or to diversify in to new markets and, as the leading Welsh business support organisation, we are here to assist.