Welcome to yet another New Year and one that will be very interesting for a number of reasons and either will, or already has, the potential to impact business in many ways. The intention to trigger “that Article” in March is now in sharp focus, particularly given the Brexit speech by Theresa May. Much like the referendum decision, the speech produced a wide range of responses from the media and politicians spanning all aspects of “it’s a disaster” through to “who needs the EU anyway – we will be Great Britain again”.

Once you throw out all the hyperbole and disregard the completely ridiculous, what it comes down to is the start of the process of changing our political relationship with the EU, which will of course be complicated and take some time. I’m fairly certain we knew that some time ago!

Bear in mind that multi-nationals are choosing to stay in the UK or even move to the UK and Surrey is going to be able to feed off that momentum. Business both here and in Europe will carry on wanting to work together and clients/customers will want access to the products and services that they have become used to getting. There is no reason to be completely pessimistic and assume that mutual cooperation for mutual benefit is now wholly impossible. In the business world pragmatism goes a long way and businesses will be working out wrinkles a lot faster than the politicians.

Coupled with Brexit – we have also seen the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the USA - and whatever you think of him, 2017 is not going to be boring. There will be opportunities in all sorts of global directions for those Surrey businesses bold enough embrace the situation.

I am not a great believer in New Year resolutions, but one I would strongly recommend to Surrey businesses is to be positive and seek to look for and seize the opportunities that present themselves during 2017, rather than dwell on the negative.

Changing the subject completely – I came across an interesting snippet recently. A autumn Business Bank study revealed that UK business owners lose, or forget to pay in, a combined £550m worth of cheques every year. One in five of those surveyed said forgetting to pay in cheques was a weekly occurrence. That is a bit scary when you consider that electronic transfer of money is becoming more the norm. Which reminds me – I really do need to check down the back of the sofa!

I do wish you all the best for your business in 2017.

Frankie Tierney

President, Surrey Chambers of Commerce

Managing Partner, Herrington & Carmichael LLPa