Yorkshire bank has released the results of a survey with SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) in the West Midlands area and their attitude towards business development and growth. It’s interesting to see what the expectations are of such businesses who are an important part of the economy, and what their plan is to grow and gain more business. Of course if you offer new work to any business on a plate then they’ll gladly accept in the majority of cases, although in some situations they will refuse maybe due to not being able to effectively manage the new work, or maybe not quite the type of work they do, or maybe even because the terms of payment are not right (these area  good signs that a business is acting with integrity and are wanting to fairly do the work rather than just get paid).  

But when it comes to gaining work itself, that’s when it gets a bit more interesting. Some businesses will be super-proactive, and spending all their energies on marketing, advertising, and business development with the clear intention of wanting to get more work, fees, and ultimately profit on the books and in the bank. On the other extreme there can be zero efforts for new business, and maybe even turning it away – maybe  because they just don’t want the hassle that comes with it, they just don’t want to ‘waste’ money on advertising that does not work and are confused and even cynical on what actually works, or maybe they just do a great job with what they already do and know that word will get around and work will naturally trickle in.  

Anyway, here’s a few stats from this survey which make an interesting observation about SMEs in the West Midlands:  

1. Over a fifth of SMEs do not seek business growth – at first a surprisingly high amount, although as above it’s amazing how many businesses there are who simply get on with things for whatever reason and don’t want to or have the luxury of not needing to worry about new business (small family businesses are a  good example).  

2. Two thirds of SMEs believe professional advice was important and therefore is established at least yearly. Nearly half of these were accountants and lawyers (we've spoted the same with the BEST Accountants In Walsall service), what you might say are typical professional businesses to make sure things are run correctly and legally – interesting in the sense that when it comes to gaining new business owners will still focus on the bread-and-butter types of advice that actually focuses more on maintaining what you already have rather than a pro-active marketing approach to getting new business. I guess some times this is right, to get things running correctly and more effectively, although in other circumstances you need to think more about what you don’t yet have. Also , 40% seek such advise at least monthly, which is actually a good things as often that steady and regular advice to help steer things is more helpful than a one-off blitz which can dazzle you with great ideas but leave you stranded with how on earth to action and monitor these changes.   

3. Businesses are looking to actively invest for the future -  93% are looking to invest in the next year, which suggests a clear intention to see greater results in the future, although with only a fifth wanting to seek actual business growth maybe shows that the intention for the majority is to just preserve what you have rather than expand.   

4. Existing support - approx. 50% thought that there was enough public and private sector support and help with growth, which I thought was surpassingly high as often you assume that businesses don’t think there is support around them and there is no hope, when in actual fact they probably do realise that in this modern age there is, it’s more a case of how to select the right advise and then effectively apply to your own situation.  

Which I think is the key here. The reality is that most business do want to grow, no matter how or in what capacity, and there is help around, but it’s applying it that because a nightmare. The answer is to get it  tailor-made, bespoke, fits-for-your-business, call it what you want – good solid advise that makes sense, you can understand, have a good ‘gut’ feel about, and which then delivers results.