It isn’t easy to have a clear view of what 2024 will hold for small businesses. The economy looks uncertain, there’s a general election on the horizon and customers’ buying habits are changing. Here are some things to think about as you make your plans for the coming year. 
The government. Regardless of your views or voting intentions there will be a general election by January 2025. The coming year will be one of campaigning and election promises, However, in reality, business costs and energy bills are unlikely to come down quickly. Although many business owners remain confident, increasing costs is still one of their biggest challenges. The Energy Bills Discount Scheme is due to end in March this year meaning energy costs could increase even further. 
With the election in mind, the government could provide additional tax breaks, incentives and alternative support with energy costs. We’ll watch with interest. 
Self-employed tax. If you’re self-employed, you’ll be pleased to know your National Insurance contributions (NICs) are reduced from April. Class 4 NICs go down from 9% to 8% and you no longer have to pay the flat rate Class 2 NICs. 
Fresh starts. Young entrepreneurs have gained confidence since the pandemic. The Prince’s Trust has helped over 90,000 young people aged 18 to 30 start their own businesses. Engaging with local customers through advertising in local printed publications is a great way to help these fledgling businesses grow. 
Food information. We’re proud to support the Northamptonshire Food and Drink awards and know how many great businesses there are in the area. This year Natasha’s law about food labelling requirements could be extended. The Food Standards Agency is supporting a campaign to add allergen information to restaurant menus
Sustainability. Customers are more interested than ever in the environment so sustainability in your business is good for the planet and for sales too. Sharing stories about how you are making a difference could help you win new customers and keep your existing ones. If you’re thinking of starting a business this year recycling and repairing products offer great opportunities if you have the know-how. 
Meeting your customers. There’s no better way to understand your customers than to meet them in person. While we’ve all become familiar with online meetings and virtual networking, we expect 2024 to be the year of the business exhibition. We have some great events planned across Northamptonshire, Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire this year. You can build your network, meet new people and old friends and learn from leading experts. 
Talk to our helpful team about your business plans for 2024. We’ll be delighted to help. 
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