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Getting micro business help & why it matters.

The recent 10th anniversary 'Manifesto for Small Business Growth and Productivity' report by the ERC (Enterprise Research Centre) is packed full of research and findings, pulled together into key actions and ideas about what has been found to have the biggest impact for small business success in Britain and, more importantly, what Britain's small businesses need for the future.

Its findings have got me reflecting on our work at Simply & how we might just be on the right track (so far so good folks) and what we can do to build on our foundations to provide the right kind of help micro businesses need now and in the future. This manifesto talks about small business which are defined as those with 10-49 employees but also references micro businesses which are defined as those with 0-9 employees - these businesses are our principle focus.

The back (very short version) story here is that I started my first micro business over 20 years ago after a corporate career and simply couldn't find the right networks or business help I needed without paying lots of money or being in a room of big firm representatives at breakfast time (hopeless for a first time Mum with a baby). This started a long journey, to find ways to craft the help for others like me and that I so desperately sought.

What has ensued is a fruitful and winding road of micro business ownership for me but also the development of the kind of inclusive, impactful and accessible business help that would best work for micro business owners in Britain.

As a business coach & consultant with nearly 30 years of business experience, I have been delivering business support to businesses of all sizes for a long time. Often as part of funded programmes, or because the business could afford day rates, much of the support has been aimed at organisations of 5-10 + employees and often a lot bigger. This work is rewarding & impactful but all the while, I've pursued ideas and ways to answer the question - how can micro enterprises (def: 0-9 employees, but often with less than 5) get the same level of good quality, impactful, accessible, affordable business help and regularly? Given that micro business makes up 98% of all private business in the UK, this has always been a big question to me.

What we do now - Simply Great Britain is a membership community exclusively for micro business owners that offers 24/7 access to business resources, help, coaching, connection and ideas for just £18 a month.

What we can learn - the ERC Manifesto details key areas of business support that have the biggest impact on productivity with actions that they hope policy makers will implement. Here are some of the findings that I found most significant:

  • Business support must work for all. The report starts by reminding us that, 'Importantly, to work effectively for all, it is vital that the small business support ecosystem should be underpinned by inclusive social support structures that provide a level playing field for entrepreneurs and small business leaders from all backgrounds and social groups, including improved access to childcare support'. This 'inclusive social support structure' is rendered even more important when we look at the demographics of start up businesses and those undertaking 'side hustle' enterprises to boost income and purpose.

  • Regular, stable business support matters. The report identifies that business support should be part of a predictable and consistent eco system of support that gives access to all and access to professional and quality help.

  • Sustainable growth doesn't mean one thing. The definition of success and productivity might be different for micro enterprises. Scaling startups, new focus on UN SDGs are alternative examples of what growth & productivity might mean to different businesses. It is also important to recognise that micros also provide, 'jobs and revenues for individuals and local communities and should not be excluded from policy initiatives'. Here here.

  • Financial literacy, and access to it, is key. Evidence shows that good understanding of finances is a core driver for business success but also access to it. Women, for example, still face huge inequality of access to financial support as female founders.

  • Innovation isn't just for large firms. Innovation comes in many forms & access to innovation partnerships & universities can unlock potential. At its most basic level, innovation for micro business owners may just be good access to peer networks to discuss ideas & routes to success.

  • Sustainability adoption is key. Net zero policy and sustainable business model adoption among micro businesses is vital for mitigating climate change for all. Good access to support & strategy will unlock so much more than business success.

  • It's time to be digitally savvy. Digital adoption can unlock huge potential for small businesses and access to improve skills and learning for micro enterprises is essential. Shared experiences, easy to understand help and access to great broadband infrastructure all play their part.

  • Leadership & management even for tiny businesses. It's assumed that leadership and management skills are only important for large business but evidence shows that developing these skills early is key to developing well managed and led businesses from day 1.

  • Mental wellbeing isn't woo woo. Developing good mental resilience and safeguarding mental wellbeing are key assets to all businesses. Small business owners need to focus on workplace wellbeing for themselves and their employees to unlock the success they seek. The report specifically says, 'Develop mental health peer support networks for entrepreneurs to help them better navigate the mental health challenges associated with running a small business'.

Find out ore about how Simply Club from Simply Great Britain is helping transform more lives through micro business by providing trusted, professional business support & resources to members alongside a community network that includes an online forum, group coaching & workshops.


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