Why do I need a small business consultant to advice me about my business?
According to the Telegraph, small businesses have an inherent distrust of business consultants. The published article Beware of Business Consultant Charlatans highlights concerns affecting SME's and issues relating to small business advice.
Get the Right Advice
It is important to get the right advice for your business to gain competitive advantage. However, an element of trust is crucial to maintain a healthy relationship between small business owners and business consultants.
"Approximately a quarter of businesses in the UK employs the services of an IT specialist." (Office of National Statistics,2016)
In 2013, the UK Government took the initiative to commit funds and resources into small business advice and support. A report by Lord Young, an advisor to the Government on business enterprise states,
"Small businesses that take external help and advice are most likely to grow and maximise their contribution to the UK economy". (Lord Young's Report,2015).
The report highlights the fact that only 30% of small businesses take external advice and suggest the reason is because of the lack of understanding of the benefits of business advice. The government has provided various schemes such as the New Enterprise Allowance to assist small business startup. The Growth Vouchers Program is one of the initiative schemes which provides a subsidy for half the cost of strategic advice to small and micro businesses. The program targets specialist areas of growth including finance, marketing, recruitment, digital capability, leadership and management.
"Small businesses in particular new and startup business mostly require help in order to maintain sustainable growth. (Lord Young's Report,2015)
Expert Business Advice and Services
- Brent Online are registered members of the Institute of Consulting (IC). The Institute of Consulting is an organisation within the Chartered Management Institute.
- Brent Online are approved advisers in the growth voucher program and provides small business advice for new business and business startup in local communities.
- Brent Online are registered members of the Marketing Research Society (MRS)
- Brent Online are approved advisers for Enterprise Nation (EN). Enterprise Nation is a networking organisation for small businesses.
- Brent Online are members of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
- Brent Online engages regularly with senior private and public sector professionals in business networking events and networking programs including the Brent Online Networking Development program (BOND).
- BOND actively participates in marketing activities and promotional campaigns to develop brand awareness.
"Almost all the business population in the UK consist of micro-entity and small business." (Gov.UK, 2014)
UK government guidelines states:
Micro business or micro entity is a business that has a head count of less than ten, a turnover threshold of £632,000 or less and a balance sheet of £316,000 or less. To qualify as a micro entity, the business must satisfy any two of these three criteria's
Small business or small company has a head count of less than fifty, a turnover threshold of £6.5 million or less and £3.26 million on its balance sheet or less. To qualify as a small business, the business must satisfy any two of these three criteria's.
The Importance of Micro Entity and Small Business to the UK Economy
At the start of 2014 the estimated private sector businesses in the UK was 5.2 million. Micro entity and small business (0-49) accounted for 99.3% of the business population with a annual turnover of £1.2 trillion. Medium size businesses accounted for 0.6% (50-249 employees) with only 0.1% for large businesses (250 or more employees). SME's (0-249 employees) accounted for 46.78% of annual turnover. Micro and small business accounted for 48% of private sector employment and 33% of private sector turnover. (Gov.UK, 2014)
Information on registering accounts including micro entity or small business is available at Accounting Guidance.
Detailed legal information is available under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
It is crucial to not only to have an online presence but to ensure your website reaches your intended audience. It is also important to ensure your website is functional, trust worthy and aesthetically appealing with the emphasis on functionality and website security.
Ecommerce business accounted for 20% of UK turnover in 2013, an increase from 16% in 2009 which is higher than the EU average at 15%. Website sales accounted for 7%. 24% of UK businesses employs the services of IT specialist which is higher than the EU average value of 20%. (Office of National Statistics)
In 2014 ecommerce sales totaled £573.4 billion, an increase of 2.18% on 2013 and 41.65% on figures in 2008. (Statisca.com)
Brent Online are specialist in ecommerce business packages and website design. We provide ecommerce solutions for small and medium size businesses with over 10 years experience as Actinic/Sellerdeck accredited ecommerce developers. For more information please click
Main Reasons why Small Businesses don't have a Dedicated Website
According to Go Daddy the main reasons for small business owners not having a dedicated website are:
- The belief that the business was to small to warrant a website (35%).
- The belief that a website would not make any different to the business (24%).
- The lack of technical expertise (21%).
- The perception of high cost to have a business website (20%).
The main reason why Small Businesses need to have a Business Website
Competition is the main motivator that influences small businesses to build a business website. 83% of small businesses that already have a website feel that they already have competitive advantage over those that do not.
- 84% of small businesses say their website must be mobile friendly.
- 48% of businesses plan to sell goods online within the first year of building their website. (Go Daddy, 2015)
Perceived concerns that can hinder eCommerce Business
There are a number of reasons that can hinder UK businesses from selling online. Factors include:
- Goods and services not suitable (23%)
- Problems related to logistics (14%)
- Problems related to payment (11%)
- Problems related to the legal framework (7%)
- Problems related to ICT security or data (7%)
The UK however had the highest proportion of online sales in 2014 in comparison to any other EU country. (National Office of Statistics)
Another area of concern for many small businesses is access to specialist advice including finance
Government approved small business loan scheme
Government backed startup loans scheme of up to £25,000
- Business plan and cash flow forecast advice and support
- Competitive interest rates
- Up to 5 years loan terms
Finance and Funding Schemes approved by Government
The ability of SME's to access funding is of vital importance in order to maintain sustainable growth. According to a Department of Business, Information and Skills survey (BIS,2010) 40% of SME's seek loans and 35% seek overdrafts. The main reason SME's seek finance is for working capital and cash flow with a small percentage seeking finance for investment. (Gov.uk)
Sole Proprietorship and Partnership
The importance of sole proprietorship and partnership is of great significance when considering ecommerce and website development. According to the department of Business Innovation and Skills, a sole proprietorship is a business owned by one self employed owner. The other two legal business forms are partnerships comprising of two or more self employed owners and companies which include public corporations where the directors are not classified as self employed29.
Drivers of change in the Business Population
The key driver of change in the business population growth is self employment with an overall increase of 330,000 31since 2013 (up 6.7%) and 1.8 million (up 51%) from 200030.
In 2014, 62%30 of private sector businesses were sole proprietorships estimated at 3.3 million, 29% were companies and 9% were ordinary partnerships16. There is nearly 4 million businesses catergorised as sole proprietorship or partnerships with no employees21.
While the increase in self-employment is a key factor affecting business population growth, some businesses have more than one owner and some owners have more than one business34. (Gov.UK, 2014)
There were 5.4 million private sector businesses at the beginning of 2015 with 4.1 million businesses consisting of owner only. Businesses without any employees is 76%. (Gov.UK, 2015)
Brent Online Business Strategy
Brent Online business strategy is to actively engage with small to medium size enterprises (SME’s) using online and offline efforts to improve their business profile and maximise profitability. Our target audience is local business communities. Brent Online implements networking programs as part of a structured business strategy.
Brent Online Goals and Objectives
Brent Online aims to achieve its goals by setting SMART objectives. Our main goals are:
- Developing brand and product awareness.
- Adding value to the customer experience.
- Developing relationships with stakeholders in order to drive our mission and vision statements.
"We are committed to provide the highest professional standards and expertise for small businesses to EXCEL."
"Small business is about networking, building strong relationships and taking action."
Business networking is a popular marketing activity employed by small businesses. According to a study by Imago and Loughborough University School of Business and Economics. On a scale of 0 to 100, delegates ranked engagement during face-to-face meetings at an average of 85%. (Forbes.com)
Networking provides many advantages which include:
- Forming relationships and building trust.
- Identifying the key decision makers within a business or organization.
- Acquiring a deeper understanding of major stakeholders.
- Information sharing.
- Improving business profile.
- Excellent development opportunity for all types of businesses including business startups and growing business.
- Reduced risk of miscommunication
- Relatively inexpensive when compared to other marketing activities.
Networking can however be time consuming and is most effective for smaller groups. This can be a draw back for larger companies.