Posts belonging to Category 'SME Business Sector'

British Government and Big Business does not understand UK SMEs

Robert Craven, one of the best ‘management thinkers’ in the UK today, in his article on BusinessZone ”I am not an SME, you patronising ***!” makes clear a shocking home truth:
Big businesses and governments are totally, hopelessly clueless about small businesses
Thank God someone is saying it……and it needs repeating. The crucial organisation who fails to grasp this issue is ‘The British Government – the one who hold the Public purse strings’. More specifically the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). A fantastic name, bursting with promise but it doesn’t seem to understand WHAT TO DO for UK small businesses (SMEs). It may know quite well “the problems SMEs face”, but appears to adopt ‘a headless chicken’ response. Can a brightly-coloured bus touring the UK with ‘Start Up Britain’ achieve much? Can a handful of corporates jumping on the Govt bandwagon at a no cost/low cost marketing opportunity deliver much to the marketplace? Why does not the UK Govt. secure investment and commitment to support upskilling small business competence, in a comprehensive programme delivered via the private sector…..
…..and don’t ignore start ups.

There are skilled start up advisers and business consultants who can deliver a programme of business support that can significantly improve the performance of the sector at a whole and would generate a return of investment to match the best in other Government public sector financing projects. The secret is to ensure that it is delivered via the private sector which will ensure the Government gets a competitive price. The Government must learn to manage its role better: to administer funding via competitive tendering and to ensure that it is widely spread to avoid profiteering and self interest manipulation. Proven success models exist, such as the MAS scheme in Yorkshire, and East Midlands in particular.

British Productivity not in line with the US or Far East

When is the UK going to make a sincere attempt to bridge the gap between the Europe, the US and the Far East.

Japan has long been the leader in world productivity per worker output. In the 1990′s research showed that prior to 2000, for measurement sake, if Japan = 100% then the US & Germany, France, Northern Italy = 66% and the UK a lowly 40%.

The UK worker has a global reputation of wanting more benefits for less input, and complaining in every case.

Those of us in the UK who are passionate about our country and our productivity potential need to take some action. Nothing much as changed since the DTI reported in 1997

too little investment in physical capital and research and development as well as low-skilled human capital, for the UK’s poor productivity. “For every hundred pounds (100) per worker invested in the UK between 1983 and 1993, Germany and the US invested nearly pounds 140, France almost pounds 150 and Japan over pounds 160.”

The US derived a substantial increase in productivity via modernisation and use of computers, sharing of information and general “can do-will do” attitude.

The level of investment has long been a key indicator of management intent, vision and courage.

Since the recession the UK Government has shown willingness, taken action and started to invest heavily in the UK SME infrastructure. Unfortunately it has borrowed heavily to do this as a last desperate measure. It would have been nice to have made financially supporting (investing in) small and medium sized UK enterprises on a steady continuous basis policy when times were good. One problem is that good times never seem good. We all get too used to them too quickly, forgetting the more difficult hard times, never thinking that they might return. Sir John Templeton, one of the world’s greatest investors of all time, says that most economies have 2 bear markets (recessional ‘dips’) every 12 years, though one never knows when they are going to start or when they are going to end.

What can one do if as a SME busines owner one desires to achieve Japanese, or US productivity in their business. As Robert craven the UK Entrepreneur guru will advise you “you can’t do it on your own”, you need advice but from whom? One’s business bank, one’s solicitor or accountant? Where do Uk Business Owners and Seniro managers start their search for the best business support? Every business manager today regualrly uses the internet for supplementary business information, and a serrvice like Business Support Finder can assist in locating the right type of professional management consultant.

SMEs under pressure

By Julian Rowe – Business Correspondent, Business Service Finder

Leeds-based recruitment firm Ellis Fairbank, recently placed in the hands of administrators, was sold this week in a management-style buy out (MBO) to several of the firm’s directors, as reported by the online business news agency, Business Desk, this week. This is just one of many examples of pressure put on SMEs by the business downturn.

What can firms do when the economy is in negative growth? In simple terms have greater control on costs, and a greater emphasis on sales revenue? In practice, this is not as easy as it sounds. Any changes by management regarding:

Supply chain management considerations,

Contractual obligations,

Investment in human capital,

Strategic plans,

Finance and cashflow implications,

Operations and logistics,

Managing customers and quality

…may well have a negative impact. Only large corporate businesses have the benefit of the full complement of management expertise, and even then it is often incomplete and hindered by the culture and structure of the organisation. For SMEs, outside the present management’s skills and knowledge, it is best brought in only as and when it is needed. This is where outsourcing can really help. Business support services are hard to find and the first place businesses go is to their local council or local business link office. However a sizeable number of businesses, for a number of reasons, do not follow through seeking support for their current challenges. The top 2 principal needs for external expertise for SMEs are financial management and marketing.

The challenge for management is recognising the need for outside help, or the skills necessary to manage outsourcing. Is this what happened with Leeds-based recruitment firm Ellis Fairbank? Should they have sought advice and assistance from a business consultant with recruitment sector experience in the Leeds area? This fear or exaggerated caution of outside help by SME management is largely unfounded. Despite the seriousness and importance of the task business support professionals can be trusted dealing in complex situations, in varied management structures, providing effective communication in organisations and in projects with multi departments. This is an every day event.

A key benefit of SME management outsourcing its requirement for additional management expertise is that should be that it can continue managing its business effectively day-to-day, and hand over to the business consultants the critical project work. This is an important part of the negotiation. Business advisers should understand this need, and in practice business support professionals pre-empt the client’s needs and mention this aspect early in the proposal. The moral is “it is always cheaper to get a professional to do it”. Why? It is much quick, with a much greater reduction in costly mistakes and errors.

Where does today’s SME management go to find the right support services for their business? A new kind of business resource location service is a good place to try, Business Service Finder – a free online business resource locator for any specialism you require e.g. HR Management Consultant