Growth ambitions for SMEs
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Growth ambitions for SMEs

Think big, act small - our week of events for small business owners and entrepreneurs

The UK Government has just announced the results of its 2014 Small Business Survey, which shows an increase in business confidence since 2012. Having interviewed over 5,115 small businesses (each employing fewer than 250 people), the survey reports that 73% are planning for growth, while others expect to have a higher turnover and to be hiring additional staff in the next 12 months. So far, so good.

But the detail is interesting. Analysing the results of the survey, it’s fascinating to see that whilst the majority feel they are good at business strategy, a small number (only 28% to be exact) feel they are confident enough to enter into new markets. Furthermore, just 44% think they are good at developing and introducing new or improved products and services; slightly concerning seen as almost 60% see competition as a major barrier to success.

My take on these results is that small businesses need good marketing to deliver their growth ambitions; yet only 7% are seeking the support they need to take their business to new heights. This is further exacerbated by their scarce use of the marketing resources available. Johnston Press and BuzzBoard reported that 44% of small businesses do not have a website, 71% are not mobile ready and 69% do not use Twitter; so even free or low-cost tools such as social media are not being used to their advantage. With three quarters of UK consumers now shopping online, this could mean that small businesses are missing out on significant revenue opportunities. If a small business (or a business of any size for that matter) doesn't keep up with changing consumer behaviours and modern marketing tools, how will they remain competitive?

CIM has also recently undertaken an in-depth survey of small business owners in the UK to understand how they feel about future prospects and how they’re approaching (or struggling with) marketing.

I'm looking forward to sharing the insights from this study throughout next week at our ‘Think big, act small’ events, and discussing the challenges and support needed by entrepreneurs and business owners with a range of expert speakers from Barclays, UKTI and Enterprise Nation.

We’ll be publishing the full results of this study in June, and then working with our partners to see how CIM can help entrepreneurs and small business owners use effective marketing to support their growth ambitions.

Undoubtedly, a lot can be done to help small businesses; firstly, to understand and secondly, to use marketing techniques and technology. I’d like to hear your thoughts about priorities: what do you think is the number one marketing opportunity or concern for an entrepreneur or business owner, which should be at the top of the list for us to help address?

Anne Godfrey CIM Former Chief Executive Officer
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