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,
Investment in human capital,
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 managementâ€™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 clientâ€™s needs and mention this aspect early in the proposal. The moral is â€œit is always cheaper to get a professional to do itâ€. Why? It is much quick, with a much greater reduction in costly mistakes and errors.
Where does todayâ€™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