By Tim Campbell, founder of the Bright Ideas Trust
The Government’s focus on the UK’s small businesses in the 2011 Budget highlights the importance of small business growth to the UK economy. The Government should therefore welcome the findings of a recent survey of over 2,000 small business owners by T-Mobile, which found that 48% of small businesses are expecting to see some business growth over the next six months.
Tim Campbell, leading small business expert and founder of the Bright Ideas Trust, offers his advice on the steps small businesses can take to secure future growth:
1. Make the most of your small size
No business can afford to remain static in the products and services it offers, whether large or small, but small businesses are particularly well-positioned to react quickly to changes in their industry or the economy, without the need for hundreds of meetings. If they spot a gap in the market they have the flexibility to be fleet of foot and capitalise on it. Perhaps this is why one in three small business owners (31%) are planning to develop new products or services in the next six months, according to T-Mobile research. Making proactive changes to refine your business model will ensure you move beyond survival and into growth mode.
2. Take a ‘glass half full’ approach
When asked about the future of their business, the majority (58%) of UK small business owners feel positive. It may be surprising to some that small businesses are optimistic about the coming months. As a small business owner myself, I am far from surprised because I know that to be successful, you need to see opportunity where others see challenges and reward where others see risk. Looking to economic change as a chance to revise plans, update services and build stronger links with existing customers involves a proactive approach and an optimistic outlook.
3. Use all available resources
I firmly believe that the UK is a good place to start a business, with lots of resources and support available. The new StartUp Britain scheme, for instance, promises support ranging from free Google advertising to discounted business insurance. The Budget announced a reduction in taxation and the funding of new ‘enterprise zones’ across the country, amongst other measures to help small businesses grow. Contracts from suppliers are getting shorter and more flexible and business angels and investors are here to help. All of these measures should instil confidence in the minds of small business owners, helping them not only to get started but also to expand.
4. Put your heads together
Collaboration is a key way small businesses can continue to grow and it would be great to see more small businesses collaborating to diversify the services they offer. Networking with other local small business owners will help you look beyond your own four walls to see what common goals you can take to fuel growth.
5. Stay focused on customer needs
Finally, I would argue that as long as the needs of the customer are at the heart of any new developments in products or services, there is a good chance of success and growth for a small business. It is all too easy to get carried away with new ideas and innovation, without asking yourself whether they really are necessary to success. Alarm bells should be ringing if you can’t see how any new changes will actually benefit your customers.