As it’s the end of year I thought I’d do a little hunting around and see if there were any 2013 business predictions for VAs. And unfortunately there aren’t! Or at least nothing substantial that’s specifically related to VAs and their businesses. But there are plenty of small business predictions, many of which are just as relevant to our business as they are to other small businesses.

Firstly the outlook is mainly sunny! According to the American Express UK Small Business Barometer just over half of small business owners across Britain (51%) expect their businesses to grow in the coming 12 months. 37% expect their businesses to stay roughly the same, and only 11% expect their business to contract in 2013.

In addition seven in ten UK small business owners expect growth to come domestically.

Other key outcomes from the research were:

  • 76% are heavily relying on word of mouth to attract new customers
  • 26% are expecting social media such as Facebook and Twitter to help build their new customer base
  • 56% of small businesses wish they could devote more time to strategy and planning for the future
  • 44% of small business owners say they are working ‘longer hours than ever before’ due to the pressure of running their business
  • 37% have missed out on holidays in the last 12 months due to work commitments

Ms Sterbenz director for American Express Small Business Services UK said ‘Our research shows that it is more important than ever for businesses to invest in planning, marketing and customer service. With so many companies relying on word of mouth, going that extra mile for customers will be key in gaining a competitive edge and to take advantage of new trading opportunities.’

So what does that mean for VAs?

  1. Since small business owners will be concentrating on work to grow turnover not employees, VAs’ are best suited to meet their needs. They’ll be looking to outsource anything that isn’t within their remit, for speed, ease and cost-effectiveness. Great news! So make sure you are networking both on and offline. Attend your local Chamber of Commerce networking events or other business related events, to take advantage of any opportunities that are close-by.
  2. Social media still continues to play an important role in small businesses reaching their customers, even more so now that fresh new content is what the search engines are looking for. So if you haven’t got up to speed with social media and blogging, 2013 is the year to do it. Offering social media management, blogging, and guest blog outreach programs to your clients or perspective clients will ensure you stay on top of the game.
  3. Are you a planning & strategy expert? If so then 2013 is the time to pitch to local businesses. Over half of small businesses in the UK struggle to find the time to make any future plans, so approaching businesses and outlining what you can do for them is a sure fire way to win new business in the coming months.

With the outlook for 2013 looking positive, my suggestion for next week is that you all relax, unwind, enjoy time with family & friends to feel fully refreshed and ready to start 2013 full of enthusiasm, motivation and new business success.

Merry Christmas and a very successful New Year!