By Scott Goodwin, CEO, Voxclever

With over 4.7 million small businesses in operation across the UK, small and medium businesses (SMEs) have long been recognised as the lifeblood of Britain’s economy, and never more so than as Britain begins the long process of pulling itself out of the recession.

SMEs contribute significantly to employment, social cohesion and local development in the UK and are already proving invaluable as the country takes its first steps on the road to economic recovery.

In comparison to larger businesses, SMEs are more able to be flexible, competitive and adaptable to change than their larger, lumbering counterparts which struggle to react to changes in the market anywhere near as quickly.

SMEs, which are defined as businesses employing fewer than 250 employees, account for 98% of businesses in the UK, employing huge numbers of people and as many of these existing small businesses will grow into the larger businesses of the future, they will also provide a major part of the UK’s new jobs in coming years.

SMEs are being hailed as vital drivers of economic recovery for a number of reasons:

Firstly, there has been significant focus and investment in SMEs of late which is proof enough that the Government believes SMEs are the economy’s fastest route to growth and that the SME sector is where its money is best spent.

Secondly, the SME sector is a source of stability in an unstable economy, and provides competition and innovative businesses — many of which make up a number of important trades and industries in the UK.

SMEs also offer consumers a greater range of choice adding significantly to the array of products and services on offer as they have the ability to flourish in limited and specialised markets which larger firms simply wouldn’t consider for economic reasons.

The influence of SMEs on the infrastructure and development of towns and cities across the UK is also significant, generating local jobs, keeping unemployment levels low and it’s their potential for growth that makes them vital in the transformation of the economy, boosting trade and bringing tourism to the area.

Finally, many SMEs act as specific suppliers to large companies providing them with flexibility and adaptability — something which is key in supply chains.

Flexibility is something that is essential to any SME in survival of tougher economic times. Being able to adapt to market conditions quickly and effectively can often mean the difference between a business failing or succeeding. But how can this be addressed?

By using remote managed services on a per user basis, SMEs can grow and flourish in response to changes in the market, expanding and shrinking as necessary. Hosted IT and Telephony services such as VoIP negate the need for costly investment in infrastructure for SMEs and as a result free up larger percentages of budgets which can be better spent elsewhere in the business.

Also, by utilising new technologies such as those outlined above, productivity can be boosted dramatically, particularly through the implementation of mobile working, which can make all the difference to a small business and help ensure that an SME can emerge healthier from the recession as the economy begins to stabilise.

As the UK’s recovery from the recession continues, SMEs would be wise to consider remote managed services to automate processes and speed up the most basic, yet necessary tasks enabling them to effectively ride out the recession and maximise their potential position as one of the UK’s larger businesses of the future.

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