By Marcus Leach

Whilst the media portray a scene of total business meltdown, one group of London-based communications experts noticed that for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), a recession isn’t always doom and gloom; it could even open new doors.

The team at Southerly Communications, an agency which specialises in corporate communications, noticed that many of their clients either saw growth or opportunity at a time when the bigger corporations dusted off the bean-counters and tried to make cutbacks.

Southerly’s Founder, Shelley Hoppe, explains more about what they found.

"We’re a nation of small businesses in the UK — did you know that, according to the latest government statistics, we account for an amazing 99.9% of enterprises and employ 23.4 million people? It’s also interesting that the overall number of SMEs has increased by 2.1 % since the start of 2010. This just goes to show how important - and resilient - this sector is," she said.

Shelley has assembled a large team of experts ranging from writers and editors to creative designers and developers. She firmly believes that flexibility is the key attribute every small business needs at time of instability — this is something that the larger players often lack.

Shelley explains: “When I set up Southerly in 2009, we were in the midst of the doldrums of the recession. I found that being flexible and agile in the way we worked with our clients and in how I employed people was the key to our success in those turbulent early years. Our customer base is a mix of huge corporates, SMEs and the odd sole trader — by being able to work with such a variety of business types has helped us to survive and grow through the recession. Believe us, business can still be strong.”

Southerly isn’t the only SME to have grown; one of their clients experienced a huge increase in business since September, based solely on the launch of a new website and online payment system. Founder of Get Set Go Stefan Monz says “since the launch of the new website, my customer base has more than doubled — it’s astonishing how much difference this has made to the business and indeed my livelihood.”

If you’re considering starting up your business or even considering folding one — listen to this snippet of advice from Shelley before you make any hasty decisions;

"Our message to all our SME clients out there is to get your house in order! Get all your operational systems working well, and then invest in a really solid marketing plan and a great website. Gear up for growth so when it comes, you're ready!"

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