Telling the truth about SME life today

Exploring British business’ three biggest pain points

Mid-sized businesses are vital to the governments long-term economic plan to reduce the deficit and create more jobs. The CBI estimates that, if they reach their full potential, it would be worth 20 to 50 billion to the UK economy.

Yet with common growing pains for medium-sized and growing businesses to overcome as they evolve reaching that potential can be a challenge. Managing supply chains, unlocking expansion and embracing the hyper-connected world are just some of the factors that can impact a companys productivity and profit, and ultimately have a bearing on their prospects for future success.

The exporting challenge 

Expansion can pose a challenge for any business, whether it is expanding to new sites in the UK or internationally. Only 17% of UK mid-sized businesses generate revenues outside of the EU compared to 25% in Germany and 30% in Italy.

A Sage survey of more than 500 business owners and decision makers revealed that one of the primary barriers to starting or increasing trading abroad is a lack of understanding around international trading regulations. With the Governments greater focus on exporting, accessing the right support before making those first steps is vitally important.

Navigating foreign legislation, currency fluctuations and international trading regulations can be daunting but by preparing properly a business will improve its decision making, with better insight and the ability to better manage business performance.

Managing the supply chain

With growth comes grows so does added layers of complexity and poor supply chain management is one of the most common pitfalls. Expansion makes it harder to keep track of every detail within a business, be that logistics, stock control and finance. You would be surprised how much potential inefficiency and cost losses can be inherent in the supply chain.

If too much slips through the cracks this wastage can hold a business back in its quest for sustainable growth.

Whether your supply chain is local or global, one principle remains: the longer the supply chain, the more scope there is for things to go wrong. A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Responsible management of your supply chain minimises risk, and ultimately allows a business to streamline and reap greater efficiency.

Cloud, or not too cloud

SMBs seeking to realise the benefits of mobile and flexible working should think carefully if and how they utilise cloud and mobile technologies. Having access to information anywhere, anytime across multiple devices is a fundamental requirement for the modern day business looking to capitalise on the always on workforce.

Companies could add up to 1.4 billion to the UK economy each year by taking a more strategic approach to flexible working.

For many established SMEs the prospect of investing in cloud and parting ways with their existing infrastructure is daunting. However, it’s important to recognise the breadth of options available, be that on-premise, hybrid, or a fully cloud solution. Yes, you can become more agile if you invest, but business should make the move if it is right for them, and not because everyone else is talking about it .

In the quest for growth, obstacles are reality for every business. Yet with the right support and systems in place, the opportunity is ripe for the picking. Lord Livingstones pledge is a step in the right direction for helping the UKs small and medium businesses achieve growth and capitalise on growing confidence in the economy.

Steve Attwell is the MD for Sage UK and Irelands Small and Medium Business Division



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