Close to one in four (23%) SME leaders currently feel lonely making decisions about their business, with feelings of isolation exacerbated by the challenging economic climate.
According to independent charity Be the Business, more than six in 10 (65%) SME leaders are currently worried about soaring energy bills (27%), rising inflation (25%) the cost of running their business (24%) and the long term impact of the-cost-of-living-crisis (21%).
Among all SME leaders surveyed, more than a quarter (26%) say they shoulder the responsibility and decision making alone, with close to a third (32%) agreeing they feel they need to be ‘always on’ to cope with the demands of running a business.
The study of 1,000 SME business leaders found that eight out of 10 (82%) claim a fresh or outside perspective would help them to make business decisions – such as access to subject matter experts (33%), online learning sessions (31%) or access to a group of business experts (30%).
The good news is that Be the Business is offering free, non-executive director-style support from a group of experienced business people made up of leaders and senior managers from successful firms with specialisms like finance, marketing, operations or HR.
Anthony Impey, CEO of Be the Business, said: “I know from first-hand experience the loneliness of being a small business leader. It can feel like the loneliest place in the world at the best of times. And in tough times like these, it’s especially challenging, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Be the Business is offering free, virtual non-exec director-style support from a group of experienced business leaders covering everything from cash flow to building resilience. It’s like having access to your very own virtual board of advisors.
“Talking with advisors and mentors can not only reduce the sense of loneliness but it can strengthen your decision-making ability. Personally, I’ve found that having that sounding board of people with experience of managing the ups and downs of running a business can give you the confidence you need to make the most of the opportunities and challenges you face. If I could encourage you to do one thing today it would be to sign up – you won’t regret it.”
Case study: Accelerating the 3D printing revolution with Enable Manufacturing
Enable Manufacturing was established in 2019 with a vision to bring to life a new, potentially revolutionary, manufacturing process: a combination of traditional manufacturing and 3D printing.
But customers need to be won over. Despite some early wins, the essential trust-building process ground to a halt due to Covid restrictions on face-to-face contact. Time was of the essence, with a window in which to grab a share of the niche market in high-value castings.
Against this backdrop, Enable Manufacturing sought support from a Be the Business advisory board, allowing them to receive invaluable non-executive director style input from a group of experienced businesspeople made up of leaders and senior managers from successful firms with specialisms like finance, marketing, operations or HR.
“The advisory board challenged our thinking. We were very focused on the day-to-day of the business, and they forced us to think more strategically. We’d leave every meeting and have different discussions from the ones we would otherwise have had,” Phil Kilburn, sales director at Enable Manufacturing, said.
James Reeves, an existing non-executive director at Enable, agreed: “They were very good at playing devil’s advocate. The 3D printing sector has to innovate its business model as well as the product itself, so we had to think about how to go to market and how to scale the business. But after each quarterly board meeting we had time to develop our thinking and then throw around our new ideas at the next meeting.”
Enable has come a long way over the past 12 months, thanks to the help it’s had from the advisory board. “We have a better strategy now and better ideas about how to get there,” said Annette Lacey, finance director. Phil added: “We’ve got an established supply chain, with repeat customers: in January we had as many orders, in financial terms, as we’d had in the previous 12 months put together.”