What, SME?

Did you know that 99.9 per cent of businesses are classified as SMEs (Small and Medium Size Enterprises)?

That is according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), who’s director of Enterprise came along to the Trade Association Forum this week to talk about their importance to the UK economy.

According to Mr Jackson (the man from the ministry) of those 99.9 per cent, 74 per cent would like to grow their business in the next twelve months but only 30 per cent will – if recent trends continue.

Why so few?

SME Barriers to Growth

According to BIS  the main reasons are the state of the economy, fierce competition and the complexity/cost of the tax regime. Although Regulation, access to finance and the practical matter of ensuring that a company has the appropriate management skills to drive growth also feature highly.

Although we rarely talk in terms of landlords as SMEs, the more they were described in this presentation, the more the parallels became obvious. The NLA speaks with landlords (members and otherwise) every day on myriad issues, many of which are very much industry specific. Even so the majority fall quite neatly into one of the categories in the chart above.

I suspect that the order would be slightly different if the question were repeated solely with landlords. Almost certainly obtaining finance would feature more prominent, as would coping with the tax burden – but the challenge to landlords, like all other small and medium size enterprises is to grow and to do so in a sustainable way.

So why not learn from the approach taken by other SMEs, or more accurately from their mistakes.

The BIS research tells us that only 30 per cent of small businesses have a business plan and only 40 per cent are able to show clear management accounts – both of which make accessing finance more difficult.

Accessing all types of finance, not least Buy-to-Let has become more difficult so it may be time to take a long look at our approach to business and what our long term plans are.

However, the most striking aspect of BIS’ presentation was the revelation that a small to medium size business is TWICE AS LIKELY TO GROW if it seeks advice. Yet shockingly only 50 per cent bother.

NLA members benefit from exclusive FREE access to professional telephone advisers. In fact, the NLA Telephone Advice Line takes more than 35,000 calls every year meaning that it supports about 130 small business every working day – which might go some way to explain how the PRS has managed to defy its detractors and grow to encompass 16.5 per cent of all households in England and Wales.

In fact, the PRS  is expected to overtake socially rented housing in the next few years, but with this growth comes responsibility to one another to make sure that the sector is well respected and perceived.

Networking and peer mentoring can be just as valuable as professional experience. The benefits of sharing experience are well recognised, which is why the NLA puts so much emphasis on our local branch meetings and online NLA member forum. If you’ve a query, or something useful to share why not give them a go today.

To join or to find out about NLA membership benefits visit landlords.org.uk

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