The current SME landscape
If you have ever considered becoming a business consultant, you may be interested to know that of the 5.5M small businesses in the UK, many are now desperately in need of support.
According to new research from Bibby Financial Services (BFS), almost four in five (79%) SME owners in the UK feel that the current economic landscape is worse than the pandemic.
Bibby Financial Services UK managing director Derek Ryan said:
“Two years ago, we thought the Covid-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns were the greatest issues to hit businesses in a generation. However, SMEs are now telling us that the current economic climate is unsustainable. In the face of a near-certain economic recession and spiralling costs, it’s life or death for many of the UK’s SMEs.”
With the energy costs and inflation, rise in interest rates, unstable political situation, and supply chain issues, it’s no wonder that 82% of business owners have been suffering from poor mental health over the last 12 months.
With all the additional challenges facing business owners today, it’s no surprise that they are feeling the pressure!
Insurance Business Magazine reported that nearly half of business owners in the UK feel that they have nobody to trust when it comes to their issues and stress acceding to a recent AXA UK survey.
The report noted that among the 500 small business owners surveyed by OnePoll on behalf of AXA UK, two in three indicated that they do not think they can talk to friends or family about the stress they feel because they do not want to worry them. Meanwhile, 48% find it difficult to know who they can talk to about their business troubles with 44% feeling unable to do the best possible job for both themselves and their staff.
An online survey of 984 small business owners run by Mental Health UK and iwoca found that 66% were unable to focus, 64% were suffering from anxiety, 63% had disrupted sleep and a staggering 37% were experiencing symptoms of depression.
As the challenges continue to increase, it’s no wonder that SME Business owners are feeling overwhelmed. And if they can’t talk to their family and friends, who can they turn to?
Where can SMEs go for business advice?
Whether running a small or large business, being the boss can be lonely. Cash flow, decision-making, staff management, balancing boundaries, and keeping confidence are all factors that make business owners feel isolated.
But finding the right type of support can be problematic for the following reasons:
- A business owner will often be precious when it comes to the business they have created from scratch. It’s not always easy to find extra growth, take a new direction, be open to new ideas and find a way forward.
- If a business is struggling, it’s not always obvious what the main issues are let alone how they can be resolved.
- Many SMEs are not aware that help is available and if they do, they may have issues with trust, letting someone else in.
However, there are a variety of options open to them, let’s look at some of the options:
Business support groups
There are a number of business support groups ranging from local Chambers, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) , LEP Networks, Growth hubs, LAs, UK Gov that are all good sources for business information and technical advice.
However, the Financial Times has reported a poor take up for the Government’s new Help to Grow programmes and the latest longitudinal survey shows low access to LEPs and Growth Hubs.
If business owners are struggling, why are they not accessing this type of support?
Technical advice is all very well if the business owner has specific questions or needs, but when a business owner is in a state of stress and unable to think clearly, they may not be able to identify what the real issues are. When this happens, working with a business support professional can help to unravel the issues and find solutions.
Business support professionals
Business support professionals offer a blend of technical and emotional support. But they come in many different guises, consultants, coaches, or mentors and they are quite different in their approaches. More on this can be found in our article Coach or consultant – what’s the difference anyway?
Some advisors work alone and draw upon their own experiences, while others are part of larger organisations that have predefined solutions, methodologies, and business tools in place.
At Business Doctors, we take the view that to really help a business grow, it is essential to look at the whole picture and establish where the issues lie. “A problem shared is a problem halved!”
We find that sometimes all a business owner really needs is to have a safe space, someone to talk to in confidence, and to share the burden.
Because we are skilled in active listening and have the knack for asking the right questions and getting into the nuts and bolts of a business, we are able to pinpoint the issues – it sounds simple but it works.
We act as a sounding board, and confidante and believe that this is what businesses need right now to survive and thrive in the current economic climate.
“Business Doctors got me thinking differently about my role in my business and my plans for the future. They provided a structured approach, but also listened well and adjusted their questions to suit my company. It made me address some fundamental mental blocks I had when it came to business development and growth.” Lustre Home and Garden Ltd
Your SME needs you!
Genuine, hands-on support is what SMEs need right now which is why we are on the lookout for the right individuals to join our network.
We don’t offer ‘off-the-shelf solutions. Our philosophy is centered around providing holistic, jargon-free business support services and our approach is tailored, unique, and bespoke to each client.
“Finding the right balance between humility and confidence are the two key ingredients to our success. We will continue to forge ahead as the only international franchise business, homegrown in the UK, dedicated to providing authentic, ethical hands-on support to SME’s which are the lifeblood of any economy.” Co-founder Matthew Levington
Because of this approach, having business qualifications alone is not sufficient, we strongly believe that to really support business owners, you need to have ‘walked their walk’.
We insist all our coaches have a minimum of 20 years of business experience. This can be in an executive role or self-employed. A sound understanding of the nuts and bolts of business and previous experience with failures as well as successes.
Aside from the obvious business credentials, advisors need to be good listeners, empathetic, caring, and enjoy giving back!
It’s a tall order, we know but we stand by our values and ethos and in 2021 we were awarded the prestigious BFA Leadership and Culture award
Not just anybody can work alongside a business to ensure that they reach its full potential. A successful business advisor is someone with a wealthy understanding of what really makes a business tick: somebody with vast depths of experience in the business world and most importantly, somebody with the desire to ensure that a business prospers as an owner has envisioned.
If you have experience helping business owners in your local community and you have a genuine desire to make a difference, you may want to consider ditching the job and opting for a more rewarding role.
If you think you have what it takes and you are ready to take the next step, read our article ‘How to become a business consultant’