A recent roundtable has heard from small business owners over what they feel are their biggest challenges in the wake of Brexit. The event was held by the ICAEW as part of Small Business Week, which ran from 7-11 September. Kate Cox from web business 123 Reg highlighted the importance of an online presence, explaining that “55% of SMEs don’t have a website” although “70%” of the SMEs 123 Reg speak to feel that digital will be their future success.
The panel also discussed the growing importance of social media as a PR and customer interaction tool for SMEs, citing customer interaction as crucial in 2016.
Meanwhile, despite the difficulties of competing against the big boys, attendees at the round table were clearer that being small has its advantages. Andrew Mawson from AWA praised small businesses for their vibrancy, energy and ability to embrace change.
Important to remain flexible
Barney Stinton (UBM) in agreement expanded: “You must start the business with a clear idea and clear vision, but it’s important to remain flexible”. The panel discussion highlighted evolving work models, such as flexible, agile, remote and home working. These work models effect how a business community communicates.
The workplace, in addition to technology, plays a fundamental role in supporting such collaboration. Recognising that SMEs are operating in an uncertain world, Mawson advised business owners to understand the associated volatility of the changing world of work and to ensure their business model can be flexible and respond to change.
‘25% of SMEs don’t have a digital strategy’
Meanwhile, chief executive of the CBI Paul Dreshcler has added his voice to calls for SMEs to embrace technology as a growth driver. “There’s no business on planet earth that doesn’t have considerations around digital technology,” Dreschler said this week, reiterating the need for SMEs to get a digital strategy in place. “For every company that we survey at the CBI, 94% think that digital technology can present new opportunities. Yet 25% of SMEs don’t have a digital strategy. What that says to me is that there’s a great opportunity there, but there’s also a threat. You can’t ignore this.”
The principal benefit, he went on to say was centred around productivity. “I just saw a great example of that from one of our members, cleaning service Housekeep. It’s a business that helps people with housekeeping and it went from having one staff member managing ten cleaners, to one staff member being able to manage 100 – just by thinking about technology.”