Running a business has always been a challenge. However, in today’s increasingly fast-paced and uncertain world, many people are struggling either just to stay afloat or finding the expertise they need to grow or remain competitive.
At the same time, business support has become much more fragmented. We’ve not only seen an end to European funding but earlier on this year, the Government announced they would be cutting funding to Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) and the growth hubs.
Whilst it is true there are huge amounts of resources online and lots of the major tech players such as Meta, Google and Microsoft run courses to help businesses, there are hundreds of thousands of SME owners who are not accessing the basic support they need. This often comes down to lack of time, lack of knowledge about where to go or misplaced pride.
Another issue is the complexity of needs faced by businesses. Whether understanding social media, navigating the Net Zero landscape, balancing the (increasingly online) books to making use of data, today’s successful business owner has to have a working knowledge of all these sectors in order to take the decisions necessary to hit their financial targets.
All this means that anyone who works in and around the enterprise support industry should also have a broad understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the SME and indeed start-up sectors – the move to digital, climate change, changing communications, doing trade with foreign countries post Brexit and dealing with artificial intelligence.
With the wide range of issues around running a business today and a lack of time to analyse the challenges, we need a different approach to enterprise support - one which takes full advantage of modern technology but still places the human being at its centre.
Traditionally we have had business advisers drawn from a variety of different backgrounds – commerce, banking, marketing, accountancy. Using their knowledge and experience, they would work closely with business owners to understand their goals, identify challenges and develop customised solutions to help them achieve their objectives.
However, much of the initial client appointment(s) would have been taken up trying to get a clear picture of what was or wasn’t happening inside their business, leaving little time to offer meaningful solutions.
Fortunately, there are now a variety of online platforms which can quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of businesses – whether from a financial or marketing standpoint. For example, our very own DNAsix platform provides a useful triage to pinpoint what assistance, if any, can be provided. It also offers a range of self-help resources to help clients upskill themselves.
To make full use of the technological resources now available and to deliver the quality of assistance required, we believe there is a need for three different types of people working in enterprise support.
As well as a new breed of fully-trained and properly accredited business advisers who have been trained around a specific ‘curriculum’, there should also be what we’d refer to as business brokers, people who can interpret the data from the online diagnosis and navigate the client to the best solution – be this adviser, specialist or self-help.
Finally, there are the trusted specialists who can provide the expert knowledge that businesses need – not just the core areas like marketing and finance but increasingly important areas such as mental health, sustainability and data management.
21st Century business support is about creating holistic ecosystems where all kinds of enterprises can thrive. And as we head into the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is characterised by the integration of digital, physical, and biological technologies success may not always be measured in growth but equally in social impact and sustainability.
If you are interested in finding out how you could create your own enterprise support ecosystem then do get in touch on email@example.com and we’ll be happy to advise you about the best way to achieve this.
We not only have a simple-to-use business support platform but we also provide skilled training courses in how to become a skilled Business Broker or Business Adviser.