‘Staying afloat’ is the priority of a quarter of UK SMEs – Vodafone

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Far from setting their sights on world domination, a survey by UK operator Vodafone asserts that the thing many small businesses in the UK are most focussed on currently is simply not going out of business.

The report commissioned by Vodafone was carried out by consumer insights firm GWI and surveyed over 1000 SME owners, founders and employees across the UK regarding the challenged they face within the post-covid landscape.

A quarter of respondents listed their main priority currently as staying afloat,  and among ‘micro-businesses’ that figure went up to 32%. 59% of SMEs have apparently sought no support or funding from a third party, only 11% had sought advice from large companies or business mentors, while 71% of sole traders aren’t getting the help they were entitled to ‘as they didn’t identify as a SME and therefore didn’t believe the support was available to them.’ The report wraps up these seemingly incongruent set of statistics together as evidence that a ‘guidance gap’ is beginning to emerge.

The report then feels the need to invent some more granular terms for different types of SME workers. It’s not clear what this categorisation is for other than perhaps an effort to coin some new terms, but since they don’t mean very much devoid of context, here is the full list of silos it reckons people working for small businesses fall into:

Passion Seekers – Company owners who launched their business because they were passionate about the idea, to create a legacy, or build something unique.

Lead Players – Business owners whose main motivation is the desire to be their own boss and take ownership of their career.

Sole Not SME – Self-employed people who identify as a sole trader, rather than seeing themselves as a small or medium sized business.

Necessity Entrepreneurs – Those who have started their business venture or joined a company out of necessity, such as the loss of the job, needing to supplement their income, or because it was the only viable option for them.

Career Climbers – Employees working for SMEs who are the most motivated by career opportunities, such as role variety and chances to be promoted and progress.

Community Builders – Business owners and employees at SMEs who feel they are contributing positively to the community, or that have a focus on sustainability or helping other people.

The Reassessors – People working at companies that have been established in the last two years and are largely motivated by the opportunity for greater flexibility and freedom as well as a chance to give back to their community.

Ever Presents – Owners and senior management at businesses that have been in operation for 20+ years and have survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In 2022 we simply have to do a better job of defining and understanding SMEs,” said Andrew Stevens, Head of Small and Medium Business at Vodafone UK. “We’ve learned that 71% of self-employed people don’t describe themselves as a small business, which means they may not believe that they have access to the same support systems as other business owners who run larger companies. This reinforces the need for better, clearer, more accessible advice and guidance.”

Not going out of business is of course a pursuit relevant to any type of business, whether you are a ‘necessity entrepreneur’ or Tesla – but the inference of course is that many firms in the current climate are more worried than usual about keeping their heads above water

The study seems to be in service of Vodafone flogging a couple of business resource platforms called V-Hub and Business.connected, which it says offers free advice and tools to SMEs. Which is fair enough, though the ultimate purpose of the roster of fresh terms it has categorised the business community into like a personality test is less clear.

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