SME's glass really is half-full

Optimistic small businesses are apparently better at coping with the recession than large rivals...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The 2009 Roffey Park Management Agenda survey reveals that the nation’s small businesses are not only more likely to see the upside of the downturn - opportunities rather than threats, if you will -  but that smaller firms may also be better led, to boot. So hats off to all you positive thinking entrepreneurs out there – it seems that a glass-half-full approach really can help.

The survey – which canvasses the opinions of over 850 senior managers in firms large and small all over the UK – finds that companies with fewer than 50 employees are the most likely to be engaging in dynamic, commercial behaviour like looking for new markets and developing new products and services. What we used to call looking for growth, in fact.

By contrast, large organisations – those with over 5000 employees - are most likely to be feeling the negative impact of the downturn, stripping out diversified businesses to focus on core activities, downsizing, suspending recruitment and cutting costs. All the grim and energy-sapping trappings of recession, in other words.

When it comes to leadership, small firms have also got big ones licked. 80% of managers in small firms rate their leaders as good, compared to 65% in other organisations. And almost a quarter of small business managers reckon their leaders deserve the highest praise of all, rating them as ‘excellent’ - an opinion which a mere 4% of managers in larger organisations share.

Of course, these findings do fly in the face of the received wisdom, which states that in tough times big companies with deep pockets are best able to ride out the storm. And before all the hard-pressed entrepreneurs out there start emailing us in high dudgeon, we are not trying to suggest that life is anything other than hard at the moment. The recession is gaining momentum and we know that things will get worse before they start to get better.

But despite all the gloom, here is good evidence from a well-respected source that small businesses have some real advantages over their big-name rivals when times get tough. Namely, that they are much less susceptible to the perils of corporate navel-gazing, and much more likely to be cohesively and dynamically led by bosses who know what they want to achieve and make no bones about communicating the same. So keep up the good work entrepreneurs, your country needs you!

In today's bulletin:

Mandelson launches £20bn finance scheme for SMEs
Mervyn Davies steps up as Citigroup becomes bitty group
JJB chaos as sales slump and Ronnie left red-faced
Goldfingers: the men with the Midas touch
SME's glass really is half-full

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