Two-thirds of small business leaders (63%) feel lonely in their role, which could prevent their company from reaching its full potential. Of 1,046 business leaders surveyed by Starling Bank, seven in ten (70%) say they find it hard to come up with new and innovative ideas on their own, and a similar number (68%) said they want more advice from their peers when it comes to running their business.
Despite these concerns, Britain’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a positive outlook for 2022. More than two-thirds of those surveyed are confident for the year ahead (68%), with the average small business planning revenue growth of 11% next year.
Their ambitions are pinned on hard graft and new investment; more than three quarters (76%) are planning record financial investment in their companies, and a similar amount (73%) will devote more time to their business than ever before.1
With small businesses being the UK’s economic powerhouse – accounting for 61% of employment and more than half of turnover in the UK (52%) at £2.5 trillion – it’s important their leaders feel supported for the year ahead. With this in mind, Starling Bank has launched a new initiative to help small businesses reach their full potential.
Take Flight – a support package complete with expert business guidance for all and a bursary for ten companies of £5,000 each – is backed by four experienced entrepreneurs including pilot and serial entrepreneur Carol Vorderman. Each one will be involved in judging Take Flight competition entries, where applicants simply have to state how they’d use the bursary for their business.
To celebrate the launch, Starling Bank’s panel of expert entrepreneurs have also shared their most critical advice to ensure businesses keep flying high.
Experienced entrepreneurs share their flying lessons
Carol Vorderman, pilot, TV personality and founder of The Maths Factor, says business leaders should take a considered approach when hiring talent:
“It’s very easy to grow and think, ‘I’m going to take on more people.’ But you really have to have the income to do that… Make an initial budget and then think about it. Then go through it again and ask yourself: Where can I save a little bit of money? Where can I make a little bit of money? That’s how successful businesses operate. It’s about the details.”
Chika Russel, founder and CEO of Chika’s Snacks urges business leaders not to ignore their own intuition when working with others:
“Sometimes people will look to one person – one investor, one shareholder, one employee – to make the difference to them and for them. And I’ve learned and I see it time and time again that it’s a formula that doesn’t work. Don’t believe that anyone person can make the difference to you, it’s got to be a collective effort.”
Belinda Kirk, rower and founder of Explorers Connect, encourages business leaders to get outside of their comfort zone, and draws from her mountaineering experience when it comes to daunting challenges:
“Choosing to go outside your comfort zone in one area of your life can also empower you to go outside of your comfort zone in other areas of your life. It’s not always comfortable – that’s the point – but it is how we make memories and achieve our potential. When taking on a business challenge, don’t look at the whole thing in front of you. You don’t look to the summit, you look to camp one. You don’t look to the finish line, you look just a little way ahead.”
Claud Williams, executive coach and founder of Dream Nation, believes that businesses can build on their potential by appealing to more diverse perspectives and experiences:
“The more human you can make your product or service, the better it will sell. Think about who you want your customers to be. What are all the different parts of identity? Gender, age, height, sexuality, race. Then try to represent that across your website in terms of your imagery and language.
The Take Flight competition can be found here, with the deadline for entries 14th January.
Anne Boden, CEO and founder at Starling Bank said: “As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve experienced the pressures of spinning multiple plates – it’s a lot to take on when you’re also trying to drive your business forward. I was flying solo when I first started Starling Bank, so asking others for advice and learning from them was invaluable.”
Symmie Swil, Head of SME Banking at Starling Bank said: “What’s been interesting about the pandemic is how much investment has gone into small businesses – and how many have been created. We want to help keep that momentum going.”