In 2016 challenges and opportunities London SME owners have to tackle and leverage are manifold.
Growing their business is a challenge London SME leaders share with small to medium-sized businesses across the world. But competition in our beautiful city is very high. The UK Competitiveness Index places London boroughs in the top nine most competitive places in Britain. London SMEs are constantly competing for customers, staff and other critical resources.
As we enter 2016, considering the key SME challenges and opportunities is a strategic must for business leaders. In this article we’ve laid them out to help SME leaders regroup and sense-check their business planning for the coming year.
The Top 5 Strategic Concerns for London Businesses
Business owners and leaders operating out of London have plenty to worry about to remain competitive and thrive. However, the CBI found in its recent London business survey what worries them most. They cite the following main 5 business concerns:
- Retaining top talent
- Uncertainty over UK’s role in Europe
- Lack of economic growth
- Regulatory pressures
- Lack of appropriately skilled staff
The CBI’s report stressed that challenges around human talent and resources dominate the list. On the list of 2016 challenges and opportunities London SME leaders face having people with the right skills on board needs their focus.
SME Owners worry more about Time than about Money
In this context it makes sense that the Forum for Private Business (FPB) quotes worries about time over money as the biggest SME concern. In fact, 36% of SMEs told the FPB that a shortage of time is the major challenge to their growth plans.
SME bosses need to free up time to think ahead
It follows that freeing up time for UK SME bosses to think about the direction of their business becomes crucial.
Research from the Telegraph, YouGov and easyJet showed that 46% of small business owners see managing day-to-day business as the biggest drain on their time.
Rather than hanging on to key information and sorting something out themselves, good delegation tends to be more cost-effective. When internal resource and skills become a barrier to delegating, outsourcing can help streamline processes, increase professionalism and ROI.
The Top 10 Factors helping SME Growth
Getting more resource on board features high up in the Top 10 factors helping SME grow, according to a Barclays survey.
When they asked: “Thinking of your strongest growth years, which of the following do you believe had a significant impact on your company’s growth in revenue?”, these were the answers:
1. Enhanced or improved existing products or services – 26%
2. Entered a new market – 26%
3. Launched a new product or service – 24%
4. Hired new staff – 20%
5. Bought new/ improved equipment – 13%
6. Found new suppliers – 12%
7. Opened new premises (office or retail space) – 12%
8. Launched new website – 12%
9. Reduced the cost of debt – 10%
10. Obtained new funding 10%
SMEs feel positive about Growth Prospects
Despite business leaders’ concerns 56% of SMEs are slightly or very optimistic about growth in 2016. Even greater news: 52% expect to grow by up to 10% in the next year, and a further 15% expect growth between 10% and 20%.
Given the importance of SMEs to the UK economy, as they represent over 99% of the estimated 5.4 million UK businesses, these are indeed promising growth figures for 2016.
If you find it’s time for you to outsource marketing to professionals to grow your London SME, speak to us. Providing marketing director support to businesses like yours is what we do, day in day out.
The UK Competitiveness Index 2013: http://www.cforic.org/pages/ukci2013.php
London Business Survey September 2015: http://news.cbi.org.uk/about/cbi-around-the-uk/london/london-business-survey/
SMEs more worried about time than money: http://www.lawdonut.co.uk/news/law/smes-more-worried-about-time-than-money
Winning new business is biggest worry for SMEs: http://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/winning-new-business-biggest-worry-smes/
Operations versus strategy: the SME challenge:
1 in 4 UK SMEs don’t use a business plan: http://talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk/2015/01/29/1-4-uk-smes-dont-use-business-plan/
SMEs fuel optimism and growth in British business:
Image credit: Shard Underground by Tom Eversley