As we know, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make a huge contribution to the UK economy. But with just four in 10 surviving past their fifth birthday, there’s no doubt that there are still lots of big challenges businesses face.
Right now, businesses up and down the country will be revising their strategies and growth plans for 2018 and with that will come new problems to solve.
Here, we share four of the main challenges facing small businesses today, as told by the business owners themselves.
There are many things that affect the growth of a business. Some are external, while others are internal and different companies will face different issues.
But one thing remains consistent – flexibility is key and all businesses need to have an active approach, ready to respond to changes in their industry and in the environment.
Arabel Lebrusan runs her own self-named ethical jewellery company. She says it’s time for her business to reach the next level.
“I took the big leap this year to go travelling for four months and still run my company from my laptop,” she says. “I had high hopes that my small team of three would keep things running while I was away.
“Problems obviously came but they also got fixed. And I learned how to stop being a bottleneck and let the team get on with it. For us, 2018 is all about growing. We have been in business for the past five years and it feels like a perfect time to reconsider what we have achieved and where we are going next.”
Rowena Perrott, general manager at cardboard box supplier Boxtopia, agrees that sustained growth will be the biggest challenge for 2018.
“Every industry has its giants. If not Amazon, Google or Apple, then some other international corporation will still be there to take the lion’s share of the market,” she says.
“The packaging industry might not receive much air time but as a small business in that space, we still have large, international companies to compete against.
“2017 saw us taking big steps in the fight for online exposure. Marketing strategies that emphasised our key products and unique selling points helped us to draw in new customers who were attracted to our bespoke product business model and personable customer service.
“The challenge for 2018 is maintaining the gains we’ve made and going further still. This will be helped by a brand new website – watch this space! – and a focus on what we believe makes our business better than anything else out there.
“If you want people to choose you over the Amazons of the world, you have to give them a reason why. That’s what we’ll be doing in 2018.”
Ready to grow your business but need some help with the process? Keir Thomas-Bryant share some tips on managing business growth.
The secrets of small business growth
Tried and tested ways to take your business from start-up to scale-up.