What entrepreneurs need to do to grow

Connecting with other SMEs is a business owner's route to success. Expand and use your network to learn from the experience of others.

What entrepreneurs need to do to grow

Connecting with other SMEs is a business owner’s route to success. Expand and use your network to learn from the experience of others.

Last year tested small businesses and their plans for growth more than ever before. Seeking the right advice and support to get through difficult times like these is crucial to survival. One of the best places to find valuable expertise, whatever your business dilemma, is to talk to those who have done exactly what you’re doing: fellow entrepreneurs.

Small businesses don’t have to weather this alone. Other CEOs and Founders have had many challenges to overcome in their careers that you can learn from. Their experiences offer alternative strategies, new ways of thinking and useful contacts that can help build other businesses. It’s unlikely yours is the first company to face a specific problem.

Running an SME affords you the opportunity to innovate, be flexible and move more quickly than a large corporation because there are no ‘legacy systems’ to tackle. But some of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face boil down to administrative issues and the affordability of a launch, let alone growth. Being able to tap into a network of people who have had similar challenges can build your skills and knowledge. The hard part is knowing where to find them. Some young companies have been lucky enough to be part of start-up incubators and hubs but these aren’t available (or relevant) to everyone.

Facebook, the OECD and the World Bank regularly conduct a Future of Business survey. Back in 2017, nearly half the businesses they spoke to said learning from other entrepreneurs was one of the main ways they learnt how to run their business in a mobile economy. Being part of entrepreneur networks like E2Exhange and Enterprise Nation are an excellent place to start.

In the UK we also have a not-for-profit movement called Be the Business. It exists to improve the business performance of UK SMEs by connecting entrepreneurs and CEOs with experienced executives from successful companies. The relationship is nurtured over time and mentors can offer insights to budding business leaders. However, during COVID they adapted and broadened their platform to help more SMEs. Now, businesses can have their performance and strategy evaluated against their peers and are given bespoke advice and guidance to help improve their productivity. 

At MarketFinance, we recently launched our first Business Booster Fund. We’ve been able to fund more businesses this year under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) than ever before and we wanted to take that further. We decided to make £5,000 grants available to deserving SMEs across the UK to give them a little boost and push their innovative businesses through 2021.

We’ve also seen first hand over the years the importance of quality advice for the challenges SMEs face ‘ we should know, we are one. So we’re also offering the time and knowledge of our top brains to help the winners through any struggles they’re currently facing. It could be as simple as the kinds of social media posts they should be creating, to how their financial team should be planning the next three years. Putting together a shortlist has been difficult, to say the least, and we now have the hard job of choosing just three winners. We’ll announce them on 2 February so stay tuned.

SMEs hold so much potential. According to a McKinsey study, if we could halve the global productivity gap between small businesses and large corporations, we could add around $15 trillion in added value. That amounts to roughly 7% of global GDP. And SMEs are in a lucky position in many ways because they’re more flexible than large companies, so they can grow more quickly without the same obstacles. The key is finding the right route to that growth, and other entrepreneurs are the best place to look.

If you wanted to know how to cook a specific dish, you wouldn’t just ask someone who’d eaten it at a restaurant; you’d ask the chef. So, if you want to know how to run a successful business that grows, talk to an entrepreneur who has done just that.

Anil Stocker
Anil Stocker

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