One third of businesses in the UK are located in London and the South East, with SMEs making up the vast majority. At the end of 2017, professional services firm EY predicted that the South East would see the highest level of business growth outside of London up to 2020, with a growth rate of 2% compared to London’s 2.2%. With such an impressive growth rate for the region, SMEs can take advantage and capitalise on the momentum.
What’s Slowing You Down?
As we look for ways to ride the wave of growth, it’s also important to think about the factors that could slow businesses down. Brexit is one of the concerns, with just a few weeks to go before the UK is officially out of the EU, and still no clear vision of what that will look like. Fortunately, there are steps that any small or medium-sized business can take to help protect against the impact of Brexit and capitalise on the advantages that SMEs have.
21st Century Tech
No business is going to get very far without keeping an eye on the latest technological advancements. Your company doesn’t have to adopt every new piece of tech out there, and it would be a waste of money and time to do so, but you should be examining how technology can help you to improve continually. For many businesses, it’s going to be their choice of software that makes a big difference. The development of Cloud has meant a plethora of solutions but many just don’t join the dots creating increased work and possible errors. The latest developments in business management software mean that SMEs can finally get an end-to-end system with one dashboard that works they way they do and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. The technology chose should be able to deliver a custom system fast and ideally with workflow automation that can change and grow as your business does. With processes simplified and double-keying eliminated, your office will be running smoothly with higher productivity, saving you time and money.
There are several types of collaboration in business, from individuals within a company pooling their complementary skills to different businesses working together. Working collaboratively ensures you’re using people’s skills in a way that most benefits your company. Many businesses start encouraging more collaborative working within their business through collaborative tools that make it easier to share information and work on projects together. Collaborating with other SMEs could include creating or getting involved with a business network or development network. As well as sharing skills, some businesses choose to share resources to make the most of their smaller budgets.
Modern business practices help companies to remain innovative and future-proof. A business’s staff is one of its greatest assets, and treating employees well protects this asset. Employee retention saves your business money and ensures you have skilled, loyal employees. True flexible working is still under-utilised but take-up and demand from employees is starting to grow. 75% of employees now want flexible working, which includes practices like allowing flexible starting or finishing times and more flexible time off. However this only goes part way, some businesses are now seeing the benefits of allowing employees to work a number of set hours with goals on delivery. This means that employees and truly work the hours that work for them, even if it is in the evening. Many case studies are showing the positive effect on productivity, delivery, engagement and profit.
The Health and Wellness Movement
There has been a noticeable increase in businesses responding to wellbeing of their employees. Many businesses are now being open-minded enough to support employees in not just their physical health but also their mental health. There are significant benefits. Happier, less-stressed employees are more productive at work and reduce time taken off for illness and staff absence drops. Wellbeing programmes however are just the start. Future-focused businesses are now looking inward and considering how their business machine actually works, how the business communicates, business values and employee expectations and working regimes in order to weed stress out at the root.
Brexit may make many feel there are uncertain times ahead but working with opportunities for the future to work smarter and reduce costs making you more flexible to manage business change will help you to weather the storm.