Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should not be treated as a homogenous group by large companies, as they are as dynamic, diverse and complex as many of the challenges they face.

  • SME like mea new report from Vodafone, sheds light on the SME sector in post-lockdown Britain.
  • Staying afloat is top priority for a quarter of UK SMEs this year, report finds, with that figure rising to 32% for micro-enterprises (less than nine employees).
  • However, the report also finds that a worrying ‘guidance gap’ is beginning to emerge, with SMEs not knowing where to turn for help and support – with only 11% have sought support from large companies or business mentors.
  • The report concludes that SMEs should not be treated as a homogenous group by large companies, as they are as dynamic, diverse and complex as many of the challenges they face.
  • Accordingly, the report identifies eight distinct personality types for SMEs.

London, June 22, 2022: Vodafone today launched SME like me, a new report that shines the spotlight on the people and personalities behind the millions of small businesses leading the charge for Britain’s economic recovery. The report also looks at some of the challenges facing SMEs in a post-Covid landscape and identifies opportunities to do more to support this vital sector.

Commissioned by Vodafone and produced by consumer insights firm GWI, the report was compiled from responses from over a thousand SME owners/founders and employees across the UK.

According to the report, one of the top priorities for a quarter of all SMEs in 2022 is simply to stay afloat. This priority was even more acute among micro-enterprises where the figure reached 32%. The report also shows that a “direction gap” is beginning to appear with 59% SMEs that have not sought any support or financing from a third party, and only 11% having sought advice from large companies or business mentors. Alarmingly, 71% individual entrepreneurs were not seeking the help to which they were entitled because they did not identify themselves as an SME and therefore did not believe that help was available to them.

Many large organizations continue to treat SMEs as a homogeneous group neatly grouped by size and similarity. The report shows that, in fact, the opposite is true, with SMEs being instead as dynamic, diverse and complex as the challenges they face. Accordingly, the report goes on to identify eight distinct personality types for SMEs:

  • Passion Seekers business owners who started their business because they were passionate about the idea, to create a legacy or build something unique.
  • Main actors – entrepreneurs whose main motivation is the desire to be their own boss and take ownership of their career.
  • Single Non SME – the self-employed who identify as a sole proprietorship rather than a small or medium-sized enterprise.
  • Necessity Contractors – those who started their business or joined a business out of necessity, such as job loss, the need to supplement their income, or because it was the only viable option for them.
  • career climbers – employees working for SMEs who are most motivated by career opportunities, such as the variety of roles and the chances of being promoted and evolving.
  • Community builders – business owners and employees of SMEs who feel they are contributing positively to the community, or who are focused on sustainability or helping others.
  • The reevaluators – people working in companies established within the last two years and largely motivated by the possibility of greater flexibility and freedom, as well as the possibility of giving back to their community.
  • Always present – owners and senior managers of businesses that have been in business for over 20 years and have survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m not sure I could be more of a community builder if I tried,” commented Kat Pither, founder of the eco-friendly yoga mat and accessories maker. Yogi Bare. “It’s the DNA of my business and the community is absolutely what Yogi Bare is.

“We built something from scratch and it’s evolving all the time. It’s also important to remember that SMEs are also a community, so we really need to talk openly about the challenges we face – there’s no shame in admitting the bumps in your journey.

“In my case, I needed to take a step back and look at my business objectively rather than emotionally – like many SMEs, I didn’t always take the support available to me because I was so ‘in the loop’. ‘instant’, grafting and grinding and trying to save the business. But I have a responsibility to be honest about the realities of running a business so people don’t feel alone and closed off, and that’ is what i’m trying to do.

Abigail Baldwin, co-founder of the design agency Butter crust, said, “My sister and I strongly identify as passion seekers. As twins, we used to sit and draw together and basically our childhood turned into a business.

Credits: Buttercrumble

“But while we have this shared passion at heart, it’s only the beginning and one of the important lessons we’ve learned is the importance of being proactive. In 2022, I would like to see more from both SMEs and organizations that can help us.

“It’s very rare that someone comes to offer you support, it’s something you really have to look for, and as an SME we have to improve because I know there is funding.

“We’ve had a lot of back and forth trying to get support and there’s a very clear disconnect where departments and organisations, both public and private, obviously don’t talk to each other. We have seen consistent growth even during the pandemic, but it would have been great to have better and clearer support during a very difficult time.

V-Hub ‘an amazing service for small businesses’, say entrepreneurs

Three rising entrepreneurs tell us what V-Hub has done for them as Vodafone’s companion service for small and medium-sized businesses celebrates its first anniversary.

Andrew Stevens, Head of Small and Medium Enterprises, Vodafone UK, explains: “In 2022, we simply need to better define and understand SMEs. We learned that 71% of the self-employed do not describe themselves as a small business, which means they may not believe they have access to the same support systems as other business owners who run larger businesses.

“This reinforces the need for better, clearer and more accessible advice and guidance.”

To support SMEs on their journey, Vodafone has two central resources: V-Hub which offers free expert advice, knowledge and an ever-growing range of tools and training, as well as free personalized advice with an advisor; and business.connected in partnership with Enterprise Nation, Cisco and Samsung, which helps 150,000 small and medium businesses to adopt technology, build their digital skills and stay safe online.

Read the full Vodafone SME like me report.

Stay up to date with the latest Vodafone news by following us on Twitter and registering on the News Center website notifications.

– Ends –

Notes to Editors

Other findings from the report include:

  • Despite the fact that 30% of SMEs describe themselves as technology innovators or early adopters, almost one in five admit that they are “laggards” who wait as long as possible before investing in new technologies; Another 26% say they will only buy established or proven technologies.
  • The highest SME density is found in London, the South East and the South West, while the lowest is found in the North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We need to support UK leveling, and that’s an important starting point.
  • A whopping 75% of SMEs operating in the UK today are sole proprietors or registered as self-employed. And it’s a group that continues to grow, even during a global pandemic – Government Business Population.

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