Seven New Year growth pledges for UK manufacturers

The start of the year is that time we all make resolutions to be better people and break bad habits.


It’s the same for businesses as it is people, so for my first manufacturing and engineering blog of the year, here are seven pledges I believe all manufacturing and engineering businesses can make to achieve their growth aspirations this year. Repeat after me:


I will invest in research and development: The ability to innovate is what makes manufacturers successful. With generous R&D tax reliefs available, there’s never been a better time to invest in research and development to stay at the sharp end of your sector. You’d be surprised as what qualifies for R&D too. It isn’t just the domain of major drug companies and science businesses, almost any business can qualify if it can demonstrate using research to resolve a technological uncertainty.


I will invest in my workforce: Businesses can’t grow without the right people. Convene a meeting with your senior management team to identify the skills needed in the business and make it a priority to fill those gaps. Whether it’s bringing in an experienced manager or starting an apprenticeship programme, take action to stop your workforce stagnating. In many areas, financial support is available for training your employees.


I will become an exporter: By limiting your customer base to the UK you are potentially missing out on lucrative new revenue streams. Many manufacturing businesses believe they are too small to export, that there is no market for their products outside the UK, or that the prospect of dealing with international customers is just too daunting. But it’s not as hard as you think and there’s lots of support available from organisations like UKTI.


I will get to grips with modern marketing: Digital media has changed the way businesses cultivate new sales opportunities. While traditional marketing methods still apply, you could be missing out if you are not making the most of your website. Is yours up-to-date? Does it reflect where your business is now? Can people view it on phones and tablets? Could your business benefit from video and social media? Speak to the professionals to get the most from your marketing.


I will make my knowledge razor sharp: Technology continues to change at seemingly unrelenting pace. If you don’t keep up there’s a chance you’ll be left behind. Set time and budgets aside for finding out about new and emerging technologies and other developments in your sector. What new plant and machinery is available? Could you benefit from tax breaks for investing in new kit? Could your business benefit from 3D printing or robotic production? Pride yourself on being in the know.


I will get into good habits and stick with them: We’re all guilty of letting our resolutions slip as the year wears on, but if you focus on doing fewer things well and making incremental improvements it’s easier to stick with them. Look across the business and pick one thing that you will do better in the finance team, one thing you will do better operationally, one thing you’ll do better from a HR perspective. Not trying to solve every single problem straight away will make it easier to focus.


I will invest in trusted thinking: Nobody can do it all on their own. It’s about having a good team around you where different skills complement each other. This extends to your external advisers too. Invest in relationships with advisers you trust implicitly, whether that’s your accountant, lawyer, mentor, a non-exec director, marketing manager, or other consultant.


For more information, please contact Ginni Cooper.