SMEs’ travails should prick the ears of practices

SO SMALL BUSINESSES are struggling. This is not a huge surprise.

The fact that they are struggling to deal with accessing finance, or understanding government-backed initiatives, according to two new surveys, merely backs up longstanding anecdotal evidence.

But what is interesting is that these reports are effectively a cry for help from the small business community. It made me think: are their advisors doing enough for them? Do they have advisors?

My discussion with practitioners lends me to think that, on the whole, firms are doing their bit to keep the lifeblood of UK business ‘oxygenated’ – if you pardon the analogy.

Of course ‘doing their bit’ is pretty vague, a generalism. There are no doubt hundreds of firms that are either lacking the energy or nous to provide proactive and value-added help to their client base, perhaps content to stick to compliance-led offerings. These firms are probably the same ones wondering why their margins have been squeezed.

What is clear from the surveys is that someone along the line is missing a trick. For go-getting practices, it is clear that there are great opportunities for them to pick clients that are either completely unhelped at the moment, or not getting the attention they deserve.

Some firms are going to come out of this recessionary period much, much stronger than others. Whether it’s using technology as a tool to change working practices and processes, better marketing efforts to win new clients, running the rule over existing clients, or making hard decisions on who can deliver within the practice, there’s still time to be one of the ‘stronger’ firms.

Kevin Reed is the editor of Accountancy Age

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