Most small business leaders struggle to find time for business management

Only 20 per cent of business owners are spending enough time actually managing their business rather than just ensuring it survives day to day.

Only one in five business management leaders spend enough time working on their business, according to recent research by Smith & Williamson.

‘Individuals looking to scale their business should aim to devote a minimum of a day a week to actually working on their business strategy and actively managing their business,’ says John Morris, scale-up lead at Smith & Williamson.

Business strategy encompasses a wide range of matters from a traditional business plan to managing staff and suppliers or seeking new opportunities as well as identifying potential pitfalls.

Morris adds, ‘We regularly talk to entrepreneurs who have excelled within their area of expertise but can struggle to adapt to the leadership and management demands of running a business. If we want our smaller businesses to scale-up, more needs to be done to help those involved.’

Theresa May recently broadcast the government’s Green Paper on Building our Industrial Strategy. The paper announces the development of Local Enterprise Partnerships and the implementation of a scale-up champion to lead a private and public sector task force. This follows greater investment within the Business Growth Fund and the British Business Bank.

‘This is great progress for the business management community, these organisations provide not only funding but also valuable advice on how to grow businesses. Many of our respondents had become increasingly concerned with the low level of backing they had from government. More than half (51 per cent) believed that more could be done to help them and, perhaps, we’re beginning to see Theresa May take notice.’

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Talent troubles

The Smith & Williamson Enterprise Index, a quarterly barometer of owner managers and entrepreneurs, finds that belief in the ability of the employment pool to deliver the required skills reached a two year low.

Only 40 per cent think that there were enough adequately trained individuals to fulfil their business needs. This was despite the fact that over half (54 per cent) of respondents aim to increase their own headcount over the next three months.

Morris concludes, ‘Most people have grown their business because they are very good at what they do. To continue to scale they will need to attract talent for the day-to-day running of the business as well as specialist skills and expertise, where appropriate. What our respondents are finding is that there simply aren’t enough trained people in the employment pool to provide the right kind of skills to grow.

‘Not since the start of 2015 has there been such negativity surrounding the ability of the talent pool amongst SMEs and entrepreneurs. If there aren’t the right skills available, businesses looking to scale should consider whether there is potential in cross-skilling existing employees.’

Further reading on business management

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics

Business management