2018 is set to be another spectacular year for growth for startups in the UK. So says Digimax – a leading digital marketing agency based in London. In fact, in a recent study, it was noted that, in the UK alone, “76 per cent of business owners said that they are currently working on new ideas, and 43 per cent aiming to launch this year – more than half (56 per cent) having previously moved from conception to launch within 24 months.” That’s a staggering amount of new growth, innovation, disruption about to hit our economy.
And what’s encouraging to read is that within days of official documents being leaked claiming that the UK will be considerably worse off in 15 years’ time regardless of which deal is signed with the EU, small business confidence continues to hold firm for the fourth consecutive quarter – according to data from the British Business Barometer by Hitachi Capital Business Finance.
Although business confidence may remain, there is, however, a continued degree of uncertainty as the British economy charters new waters through GDPR, Brexit, changing consumer habits, new tech developments like blockchain, AI, VR and more, and ultimately, a changing workforce. SMEs, more than ever before, are facing unexpected challenges. But despite all of this, there’s a huge beaming light at the end of this tunnel for entrepreneurs. In a survey conducted by Small Business UK, over 150 SME business owners revealed an unexpectedly positive outlook for the future of their businesses’ growth. And there’s reason for that.
What’s driving their optimism?
Agility is not simply just another mot du jour in the latest business journal and strategy discussion. It’s a decision to build a company around change. According to SME Web, SME owners prioritise agility as one of the most important capabilities to develop over the next three years for meeting business challenges, and are taking active steps to consolidate their operational effectiveness in 2018. The definition of agility is being flexible to change. Embarking on a new business journey amidst some of the biggest economical changes we’ve experienced in a long time is defining the very make up of new, exciting businesses in the UK. They are accustomed to change, they accept it, and they use it as a driving force within their businesses. Which means that despite any challenges ahead, and there will be many, they have developed the habit to be able to think quickly, change course effectively, adapt to new habits – and being comfortable with change, means they don’t fear it, but excel within it.
Where massive innovation initiatives are being kicked off by large corporates who have realised the immediate need for transforming their own organisations if they intend to stay in the running alongside newer, disruptive businesses, SMEs realise that they hold a gold nugget that larger organisations are paying a lot of money to develop – and that’s the ability to innovate. Entering the current economic climate is anything but easy. And to make it through, you need to be able to deliver results through doing things that are different, will get you recognised and will make you stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s through a product you develop, a type of service you deliver, a new interpretation of an old strategy – innovation is the name of the game, and SMEs are poised to take full advantage of their ability to create. And they know that.
Stronger Customer Relationships
It may sound completely obvious – and ask most businesses – but the customer is always king. Of course. But often a marketing message is so far removed from corporate culture that although you may profess to be close to your customer, very few actually understand the intrinsic nature of a true customer relationship. Hardly a quick lunch, or a great review on Trust Pilot, customer relationship is about being at the cold face of reality – where whatever they say, demand, expect, shapes your entire product development cycle. You, as a business (and business leader) realises that it’s not about you. Nothing you do, is about you. It’s about being ok with the fact that bad reviews, and bad feedback is sometimes more important than the good. And in the SME world, it’s customer tenacity that pays off and shapes the early foundations of long-term success. Before corporate hierarchies and untouchable boardroom discussions, the nature of commerce was a simple one: Buy and Sell. The relationship between 2 parties who are there for a mutual reward. Through their agility, flat leadership structures, closer-to-the-ground cultures, SMEs display a distinct advantage by knowing exactly what their customers expect, and the ability to deliver on those expectations.
SMEs are getting back to basics. They’re ready for growth, they are confident in their customer relationships, they are agile and innovative. They are stripping things back and delivering to the heart of customer demand.
Research conducted by American Express and Oxford Economics on SMEs indicated that “while many SMEs are focused on consolidating their current market share in 2018, they shouldn’t forget international opportunities. While only 24% of the SMEs American Express and Oxford Economics spoke to are currently exporting, these businesses are experiencing – and expect to continue experiencing – improved financial performance. They are also more confident about the economy and better innovators, suggesting that there’s an opportunity to increase profit and capability by looking abroad.”
As they look ahead to new opportunities and adapting towards new routes to markets, SMEs are feeling confident that there is very little they can’t do.
Businesses starting out today are starting their journey in a data-driven world, where innovative tech delivers more, quicker, clearer. As a result, we’re becoming more adept at understanding, and using, data to drive our strategy, our company culture, our growth plans. Whether SMEs generate their own, or they buy data in through a 3rd party, technology-driven startups are hurdling their way past larger, more antiquated organisations who are only now coming to terms with effective data integration to drive their innovation strategy.
A SME’s ability to grow depends on their ability to access the right funding and support. That’s why we love what we do. Our job is to deliver exponential growth to your business – whether you’re a high-growth SME, ready to take on a new challenge, or whether you’re a large Corporate looking to invest in an exciting new business, to grow your own innovation strategy. It’s time you chatted to us.