Despite business growth ambitions, the majority (82%) of SME leaders find mentoring or training helpful to make business decisions in current climate

Close to seven in 10 (69%) SME leaders questioned say making business decisions leads them to feel anxious and lack confidence in their own abilities

Close to one in four (38%) small and medium-sized business leaders plan growth this year with increasing sales (26%), retaining talent (23%), upskilling employees (23%) and building resilience (23%) the top priorities.

Yet close to seven in 10 (69%) SME leaders questioned say making business decisions leads them to feel anxious and lack confidence in their own abilities, with the majority of leaders (94%) agreeing that the current economic climate increases these feelings.

According to independent charity Be the Business, one in three (32%) SME leaders questioned worry a lot about their business and whether they are doing the right thing, with some of the most difficult decisions when running their business being around how to innovate (25%) or how to manage cashflow (25%).

The study of 1,000 SME business leaders found that eight out of 10 (82%) claim a fresh or outside perspective would help them make decisions – stating access to subject matter experts (33%) or online learning sessions on relevant topics (31%) would be most helpful.

When asked which area they would most like external, expert advice on, business leaders voted guidance on increasing sales (28%), retaining talent (25%), improving business finance/accounting (24%) and increasing business resilience (23%) as the most relevant in the current economic climate.

The good news is that Be the Business is offering free online Spark Sessions covering an array of useful topics such as building sales, retaining staff, leadership, finance and how to build business resilience. Visit here for information on how to sign up.

Anthony Impey, CEO of Be the Business, said: “Before joining Be the Business, I spent my career starting and scaling my own businesses and I really appreciate the value that expert insights can bring, especially in these tough times for the economy. I know from speaking to business leaders every day that they are worried about the challenges ahead and that they’re looking for sources of information to help them navigate the uncertain times ahead.

“This is why I’m pleased to announce that we have launched these Spark Sessions during February and March. The free, online sessions focus on key business issues and equip leaders with the knowledge and information to make better decisions. It’s a fantastic opportunity and I encourage any business leaders to take a look and sign up today.”

Case study: Helping HotTea Mama bag new business

HotTea Mama was launched in 2017 by Bethan Thomas and her business partner Kate, based on six teas designed to help women with pregnancy and early motherhood.

The company flourished, plugging a real gap in the market, and because the business has sold its teas wholly online, HotTea Mama continued to thrive during the pandemic. Turnover soared from £70,000 in 2019/2020 to £230,000 in 2020/2021.

The financial progression did bring some pain however and the business almost became a victim of its own success. Not only was it growing rapidly, but eight months after the two women set it up, Kate went to live in Australia. “I was a one-man band for a while, which was quite stressful,” remembers Bethan.

As such, Bethan needed support and to help her see beyond the day-to-day running of the business and develop her strategy and growth plan. She turned to Be the Business to help her gain the additional knowledge to push on to the next level. This helped her create templates to help her manage her growing team, and to do financial planning.

Bethan explained: “My background is marketing, brand management, buying. I’d never done financial planning or managed teams before, other than in a fairly rudimentary way. Now there is more structure, which gives me a platform for our next stage of growth.”

And the next stage of growth is imminent, and will represent a step change in the company’s fortunes. Bethan anticipates turnover this year will rise to £500,000 – thanks to a new contract with a major high-street retailer, which will list HotTea Mama in up to 300 stores.

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