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Ambitions Beyond Growth: Responding to the diversifying needs of the UK’s SME population

Increased profit is the primary ambition for 42 per cent of SMEs, with another 39 per cent focused on improving productivity and efficiency

One third of UK small business leaders not focusing on turnover growth

New figures highlight a return to the pre-coronavirus trend for productivity growth, and charity Be the Business is calling for a new approach in how the business support ecosystem speaks to business leaders.

Today, the ONS published a productivity flash estimate for January to March 2022, showing that UK productivity remained 1.9% above pre coronavirus levels - in line with the 2009-2019 trend.

This news comes as Be the Business publishes a new report which found that one in three (32%) small and medium sized business (SME) leaders do not want to grow their business turnover, with other ambitions coming to the fore instead.

While growth is not an area of focus for a third of SMEs, nine in 10 business leaders noted they are always looking for ways to improve the performance of their business, citing ambitions to boost resilience, work/life balance, employee wellbeing and sustainability.

Business leaders’ strategies for reaching their ambitions included driving efficiency (38%), introducing new products and services (35%), and improving use of technology (30%) – all linked to increased productivity.

Be the Business is calling on the business support ecosystem to appeal to SME leaders’ broader ambitions to encourage take up of support that can drive greater productivity. Report recommendations include segmenting audiences based on their approach to leadership, testing and tailoring messaging linked to a broader set of business priorities and adapting offerings to reflect the stated focus of business leaders.

Be the Business is an independent, not-for-profit organisation founded in 2017 by Sir Charlie Mayfield. The charity’s goal is to help small business leaders improve the performance of their business, a long-standing challenge for the UK.

Anthony Impey MBE, chief executive of Be the Business, said:

“Improving productivity is the best solution to combat the rising cost of doing business, because increasing output per hour puts businesses in a better place to absorb higher input costs and increase wages for employees.

“The vast majority of business leaders are always looking for ways to improve their performance, but if you only talk to them about growth, you miss the opportunity to engage with a significant section of the business population.

“Growth and higher productivity are essential, but the business support ecosystem needs to recognise that these may not be the core ambition of all business leaders. In appealing to business leader priorities beyond growth, such as greater resilience and employee wellbeing, support agencies can engage a wider audience in activities that boost productivity.”


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