The SME personality test: which are you and why does it matter?

With over 5.5 million small and medium business operating in the UK today, SMEs account for almost 99.9% of the UK’s total business population.

personality test

With over 5.5 million small and medium business operating in the UK today, SMEs account for almost 99.9% of the UK’s total business population. Surprisingly, it’s still the norm to lazily consider SMEs as some kind of homogeneous group neatly tagged together by size. The reality is so far from this – SMEs are as vibrant and as varied as British life itself.

The consequences of treating them as a single group are very real, and very damaging. Without understanding who makes up the SME community, we cannot support them with the tools, resources, and solutions they’ll need to thrive and prosper on their digital transformation journeys.

Our recent SMEs Like Me report helped us unearth eight unique and distinct SME personality types – find these in more detail below. 

I would encourage you to identify which one best fits your own business journey. As we continue to map out 2023, having a thorough understanding of your small business will help you to define a clearer vision and strategy for the year ahead. 

The 8 SME personality types

Passion seekers

Prioritise creativity and passion. They are social butterflies that continually seek inspiration by developing skills and relishing flexibility. They tend to be found in the Retail, Professional Services and Entertainment industries and are often on the smaller side, with 79% falling under the micro-business banner.

Lead players

Are extremely driven. Their main motivation is to be their own boss and take ownership of their career. These leaders are happy working longer hours to get ahead, with 80% agreeing the risk and effort of owning your business is worth the reward. You can find Lead Players mostly in London or the South, with 11-15 years’ experience under their belts.

Sole, not SME

Are self-employed people who do not relate to the ‘SME’ label; 71% prefer to identify as a sole trader. But, whilst flexibility and being their own boss tops their list of motivations, operating alone can mean they often lack support and are unable to share the burden when under pressure. 

Necessity entrepreneurs

Have started their own venture or joined a business out of necessity, such as the loss of a job or needing to supplement their income, so may not be motivated by passion. Our research found that Baby Boomers are over-represented in this category as well as women, who prioritize flexibility over passion-projects. 

Career climbers

Are employees working for SMEs who are motivated by the career opportunities available, such as role variety and possible promotions. They are more likely to work for small to medium sized enterprises than micro-businesses, given they are motivated by the salary, skills development and benefits that a slightly larger structure can offer. 

Community builders 

Pride themselves on giving back to the community through their business, whether that is focusing on sustainability or helping others. Interestingly, workers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over-index by almost 20% in this category.

The reassessors

Are those who have taken on a role in the last two years, motivated by the opportunity for greater flexibility and freedom as well as a chance to give back to their community. These businesses may have been founded during the pandemic and thus are better positioned to navigate economic turbulence, or individuals may have been motivated to change role in pursuit of a new lifestyle as 56% of The Reassessors have worked in a different industry.  

The ever presents 

Make up the majority of the UK SME landscape and are the veterans of the group, working for companies that have been operating for 20+ years and that survived the Covid-19 pandemic. This group over-indexes in the North of England and works in more traditional sectors like Manufacturing and Transportation, Retail and Food Services, Construction, or Maintenance and Repair.

Andrew Stevens
Andrew Stevens

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