Big ideas, big ambitions, big plans, big(ger) competitors, big (massive!) decisions, big risks (certainly), big returns (maybe). Isn't it time we cooked up a new way to describe those businesses with fewer than 250 employees other than SME, the 'small and medium-sized enterprise'?
Out of small acorns…
It's such a misnomer and a discredit to the sweat, blood, toil, fun, buzz and inspiration that comes with working in and on such ventures. Why not growth business, challenger business and decent, hardworking and honest business?
SME business makes up over 99% of all business in the UK - an incredible stat when you think about it. Yet they still pay the same rate of 'corporation' tax as the <1% that is big business (or far more depending on which big businesses you're talking about). Why there is no SME tax in the UK?
The level of risk-taking made by small business is certainly off the scale. Entrepreneurs often jump from their secure salary packages and pension schemes into a place of, well, no salary, no pension and being paid by 100% commission.
How they grow from this point will require a huge amount of risk, hard work, persistence, resilience and - for the fortunate ones - some investment.
Big business risks are calculated, mitigated and protected. You make a mistake in big business and there might be a few eyes rolled (you make another and you probably get a promotion). In an SME environment, you make the wrong choice and you could go bust overnight. In 2018, nearly 16k businesses went into liquidation in the UK and the vast majority of these were SMEs.
So how to remove the risk?
Knowledge, information, understanding. You do your research. Research into markets, competitors and of course your customers and potential customers.
But at what price? Market research is expensive - and is for the most part completely focused on the big business budget. My industry trade body recently made a big play to reach out to SMEs which I thought was great... until you click through to register for the launch event which had a ticket price of £500.
But research - and the insight you can establish from research - can be a complete game-changer. And, it shouldn't need to cost a huge amount. With some good understanding of what you're trying to do, good research and the application of good research should be attainable for all types of business.
So that's what we are doing at Customer IQ and will continue to do. I see it as our mission to help neat, smart, growth-oriented businesses to navigate change by providing them with high-quality knowledge in order for them to make brilliant decisions.
Where's the risk?
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