5 Key SME Challenges In 2017

5 Key SME Challenges In 2017

Labour costs, the impact of Brexit and skills shortages are identified among the key challenges facing UK businesses in 2017. In addition, organisations also cite improving operational efficiency, enhancing the customer experience and increasing revenues as key to their success in 2017 and beyond. All of the above, of course, are what you would expect larger business owners to be concerned with, but what if you are small business or a start-up, what are the challenges for you as an SME in 2017?

Five business challenges that your SME may be facing this year:


1. Funding

As might be expected, access to funding is one of the most frequently cited barriers that small businesses face. Alex Chesterman, CEO and Founder of Zoopla states, “The last few years have been relatively tough from an investment standpoint”. However, even though mainstream lenders are still reluctant to fully engage with SMEs, the rise of challenger banks and alternative lenders is beginning to make funding options more available to the small to medium business community.

2. Competition

sme challenge 2017Another big challenge for SME’s in 2017 is just how competitive the marketplace has become. To stand out businesses need to be very special in terms of idea, people, product and delivery.

We are seeing increasing numbers of people striking out on their own, meaning even more competition, and so it is all about understanding your competitive advantage, moving faster and acting smarter.


3. Recruitment

Identifying and recruiting the best people for the right roles is one of the biggest challenges facing SME’s today, not least because of the competition from Blue Chip and larger players who can offer bigger salaries and benefits.
Many surveys show that small businesses are being held back from growing by failing to attract the right people. Success happens off the back of hiring good people yet the challenge is first to find them, and then keep them.

4. Leadership

leadership challenge smeThis is a key issue for all businesses, but for small businesses in particular, where there is a concern that we are creating a generation of “accidental leaders” who have not had any management or leadership training, and yet they could be running substantial and complex businesses. In this increasingly regulated, digital and globally competitive world it is vital that we give our small business leaders the tools to compete.

It is not only small business leaders but their employees that are lacking development. A recent CMI survey found that 71% of employees felt their employer could do better at providing first line management training, or didn’t offer any training at all.

5. Regulation and Red Tape

Businesses today have to contend with a myriad of different regulatory pressures, from complying with the national living wage, pensions auto enrolment, IR35 and GDPR to name but a few, and that is not to mention the industry specific regulations that apply to your particular business sector.

Keeping on top of the ever changing requirements of regulation is both a time consuming and costly affair. It is easy for large businesses to quote regulation and red tape as “the cost of doing business” and then pass on the cost to their customer. Unfortunately for many SME’s it is not so easy, and as such it becomes quite the challenge moving forward.

Whatever your business challenge in 2017, it is not easy running and growing a small company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technological advances, new hiring strategies and political and economic changes all add to the existing business challenges business owners have to deal with. However, as an owner, founder or a director of an SME you should be proud of your achievements.

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