As we look forward to 2023, fortunately the majority of businesses remain in a stable position, but while businesses are still expanding, the pace of growth is starting to flatten (InterTradeIreland’s All-Island Business Monitor, Q3 2022). With a great deal of uncertainty in the wider economy, it will be important for businesses to have a solid strategy in place for 2023 and beyond, providing them with the tools to be agile and enable them to handle economic challenges that may arise.
In the months ahead, here are four things for your business to keep in mind:
1. Remain resilient in times of uncertainty
Last year was a particularly challenging year for business. In Q3 of 2022, 90% of firms experienced significant increases in energy costs, 50% reported higher supplier costs, and 44% faced spikes in transport costs (InterTradeIreland AIBM, Q3 2022).
The latest InterTradeIreland All-Island Business Monitor indicated that 92% of businesses expect further increase in costs in 2023 – as inflation continues to present challenges, businesses will incur much higher borrowing prices, and a volatile energy market will spike costs further.
On a positive note, businesses across the island of Ireland have adapted, with the data showing that those who trade across the border tend to be more robust. By focusing on the agility of your business, exploring innovative solutions and collaborating with new business partners, you will be able to support growth capability and build resilience through the transfer of crucial skills, knowledge and expertise.
If you are an early stage business currently seeking funding, look out for our upcoming Venture Capital Conference 2023, focusing on the theme of ‘Resilience and Creativity in Business’. Attendees will have the opportunity to gain insight from expert speakers and world-class companies who will share their advice on the current investment scene in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
2. Explore cross-border opportunities
Do you want to find new customers for your business? Now is a great time to take advantage of the cross-border market right on your doorstep. Currently total cross-border trade in goods and services is valued at £8.3bn.
Companies that export are more robust and perform better. InterTradeIreland’s research shows that 41% of cross-border traders are experiencing rapid to moderate growth, compared with 21% of non-cross-border traders. Put simply, exporting cross-border can give you access to more opportunities.
Despite these findings, only 1 in 5 businesses in Northern Ireland and Ireland export in this way. For companies that want to move forward, boost sales, and expand, trading across the border is the perfect place to take the first steps on to the export ladder.
In InterTradeIreland, we know the cross-border market. If you need assistance to get started, we offer a number of resources to help you export post-Brexit. Our Trade Accelerator Voucher and our sales development programmes Elevate and Acumen, can help you win new business.
Perhaps one of your 2023 business goals is even to begin exporting online? Check out our range of Digital Sales supports to help you expand your online presence in the cross-border market and beyond.
To find out how we can help you best, visit: https://intertradeireland.com/sales-growth/how-we-support-sales-growth
3. Find innovative solutions to solve problems
Adapting to innovative methods and finding ways to overcome existing problems in new ways, has been crucial to tackling business challenges over the past few years. In 2023, one thing remains constant - businesses that are open to innovation, change and doing things differently will outperform those who are not.
As we become a more digitised society, now more than ever, SMEs should consider a more digital-first approach. Focusing on what can be streamlined and automated can offer a number of benefits to keep up-to-date with the fast-paced world, including; better decision making through quicker and more accurate data analysis, more efficient business processes, improved fraud and error detection and greater employee satisfaction through use of technology for routine tasks.
We recognise implementing innovative solutions requires specialised skills and cutting-edge technology - and it can be costly for SMEs and micro businesses to resource. The good news is that there are a variety of supports out there to help you along the way, including those from InterTradeIreland.
Why not take a look at our Innovation Boost programme, a collaborative partnership that can provide that support by helping to fund a high-calibre science, engineering or technology graduate, and also enable you to connect with a third-level institution that can share in-depth industry expertise with your business.
The advantages include the ability to explore improved processes, to allow the creation of new products or services, exchange ideas, share costs, equip your staff with new ways of working and gain access to networks of contacts.
Learn more about Innovation Boost and how the programme helped Keohane’s Seafood collaborate with Ulster University to develop their new product range and win Exemplar Status, here: https://intertradeireland.com/news/minister-for-enterprise-congratulates-cork-business-on-innovation-award
4. Use the power of collaboration and networks
Building up your network may not be top of your priority list in 2023. However, you may be missing out if you don’t make an effort to establish connections for your business. Networks provide an opportunity for people to meet and exchange ideas.
In InterTradeIreland we understand the value of collaboration. There is scope for increased cross-border partnerships in the advanced manufacturing sector, Industry 4.0, health and life sciences and the adaption to a low carbon economy. This will also create opportunities for smaller businesses, particularly in the supply chain. In fact, our Synergy initiative is focused on harnessing the power of cross-border collaboration in these areas.
Opportunities for smaller firms in the public procurement market are increasing too - and the formation of joint ventures and consortia is an increasingly common approach to winning bids.
If you would like to increase your knowledge about forming successful collaborations to tender for public sector contracts, you can find out more information in this workshop: Go-2-Tender Successful Collaborative Tendering Workshop 22 February 2023 | InterTradeIreland
How can we help you throughout 2023?
InterTradeIreland has been helping small businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland explore new cross-border markets, develop new products, processes and services and become investor ready for over two decades.
With a variety of supports and practical advice, we can equip your business with the necessary skills to understand and prepare for future opportunities as well as overcome business challenges. Interested? Get in touch with us.