With many forecasts predicting that the UK will experience a year of stable, if unspectacular, growth in 2015, there are likely to still be tough times ahead for many business sectors.One of the leading organisations which keeps an eye on the fortunes of larger businesses, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), says that the prospects for growth in the UK for the coming year look set to stay “on a healthy trajectory”.
It says manufacturing businesses had experienced slightly stronger growth than average in the three months to November.
Indeed, 15 out of 18 business sub-sectors experienced growth in their output, the CBI found, while an index measuring the balance of firms expecting to grow over the following year against those expecting to stay stable or contract stood at +26. This had stayed steady for three months, but is markedly lower than earlier in the year.Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s Director for Economics, noted that, while some “previously pent-up demand” had been released into the economy towards the end of 2014, greater concern surrounded the global economic picture.
A rosy picture at home – but less clear abroad
And it is likely to be worries over other economies which will dominate the outlook for the UK in 2015. Weakness in the Eurozone, slowing growth in the BRICs countries – once held up as the drivers of a new world economic future – and geo-political tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine, are all cited by the CBI as factors which could play a major role in shaping the prospects for the UK’s economy in the year ahead.
Infrastructure investment likely to ‘drip down’ through rest of economy Key drivers of growth in the UK in 2015 look set to be manufacturing, energy and construction, as the country aims to take steps to rebalance its reliance on non-renewable sources of power.Healthy signs for the construction sector, are being replicated by similar growth in manufacturing, and these factors are starting to have a positive impact on people’s willingness to spend on leisure activities, so boosting this important sector as well.
Many of our ‘ones to watch’ listed below also operate broadly in this sector, especially as several of them are concerned with helping new businesses secure funding to get established and grow.
An entrepreneur-led recovery
But several important measures look likely to shift the emphasis of growth in the UK towards the tech sector too – many of these the fruits of this new investment in infrastructure.
New visas to encourage people to come to the UK to start up businesses, tax breaks for people investing in such embryonic enterprises, and reforms to intellectual property laws, are all set to change the ways in which businesses are established and equipped to grow in the future.
But while it may be more difficult for someone to start a business from scratch and make money quickly – especially if they have international ambitions, for the reasons outlined above – visionary people who tap into areas of growth can still find success in the UK.
So here, with acknowledgement to Business Insider UK, is a selection of five people who are forecast to make their mark in 2015:
- Alex Chesterman: Having co-founded movie rental and streaming service LoveFilm in 2007, and pocketed a fortune on selling it to Amazon in 2011, Chesterman is now in charge of online property portal Zoopla. Floated on the stock market earlier this year, the business is valued at more than £900million.
- Jeff Lynn: Crowd-funding has become a major means of offering support to fledgling businesses which don’t have sufficient track record to gain support from banks and other traditional lenders. Lawyer Lynn has launched Seedrs, a platform enabling people to invest as little as £10 in new businesses. And with approval for the business granted by financial regulators earlier this year, he and his business are likely to become far better-known names in 2015.
- Alicia Navarro: From its first days as a Australian e-commerce website in 2006, Navarro’s business, Skimlinks, has become a major platform for affiliate commerce, attracting businesses to trade on it in return for a share of the profits earned. It currently sees about 300 million clicks a month through to its partner businesses, and as a result of its success in helping businesses grow, Navarro has been chosen as a government adviser to help companies looking to float on the stock market.
- Alastair Mitchell: Proving that the sharing of data and information is at the centre of modern business, Mitchell’s firm, Huddle, is going great guns, especially since it was endorsed by the UK government, whose use of its service is projected to have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, even before 2015 has ended. The development of a more secure version of its service is expected to see Huddle make similarly big gains in the US.
- Slava Rubin: With $40million (£25.5million) gained from backers at the start of 2014 to help grow his crowd-funding business, Indiegogo, Rubin managed to double that investment towards the end of the year, this time with backers including Sir Richard Branson, and Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal. His business is international in scope, helping fledgling firms in the UK, America, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
Small (or medium-sized) is beautiful
One major trend of recent years likely to continue into 2015 and beyond is that many of the people breaking through and becoming well-known in business will be at the helm of small companies.While many major global conglomerates will no doubt benefit from an accelerating economy, it is in these more agile and innovative businesses where the true entrepreneurial spirit lies.