Operating as an SME in today’s business community poses many challenges regardless of the sector your business operates in. Understanding how to overcome those challenges can also be difficult without specific advice from industry experts or business advisors.
For an SME or business just starting, there is one challenge which can significantly impact the success or failure of a business going forward, choosing the right location. Making sure your business is operating in a place which is suitable for you in all areas can provide your business with a great foundation to expand in the future.
While it may be tempting to set up your business in one of the countries bigger cities, in the UK for example cities like London or Manchester, it can be highly beneficial to look elsewhere for a location. Other locations in smaller cities can support your business without the significant financial strain bigger cities impose.
An example of a business basing themselves in an advantageous location which has ultimately helped them overcome the financial challenge of growing a business is Bespoke Interiors.
Managing Director of Bespoke Interiors, Sean Evennett, made specific reference to the lower cost of living in cities such as Newcastle, where Bespoke Interiors are based, as a factor which has helped promote growth in the business. “The average housing prices are cheaper than other places in the UK,” he said, “which makes Newcastle an attractive place to young people and entrepreneurs.” Being able to attract employees to a company when your business is looking to grow is challenging. Not only do you need to be able to offer a great working environment, but an attractive location to live in with a manageable cost of living.
Being based in Newcastle, according to Evennett, also allows Bespoke Interiors to offer “high-quality services without having as high expenses as we would if we were based in London.” Bespoke Interiors are responsible for designing and installing a range of bathrooms for Newcastle based clients, along with clients further afield.
“Our team consists of fine artisans all from Newcastle and the North East areas that are high-grade trained,” Evennett said. “There are two main universities in Newcastle and a few others nearby such as Durham, Sunderland and Teesside University. This ensures that there is an abundance of young and talented people in Newcastle eager to start their careers.”
Another major challenge SMEs and start-ups often face is securing funding for their business to help them grow. According to Evennett, making a concerted effort to seek out these grant opportunities can really help businesses. “Government grants can be given to businesses anywhere in the UK,” Evennett said. However, from his first-hand knowledge of being based in Newcastle, it is clear that there can be ways of finding local grant opportunities.
“Newcastle has its own range of private grants and funding groups that entrepreneurs can apply for. Companies like Ignite and Entrepreneurial Spark focus on providing education and small start-up grants to young people with business plans.
“The North of Tyne Combined Authority occasionally meets to choose particularly noticeable new businesses that have made an impact on the city, often providing them with a grand in the hopes that they’ll support the community in return,” Evennett said.
The advantage of the right grant for your business is that the opportunities which come with it often amount to more than just the funding. Being based in Newcastle, Evennett has seen first-hand the sectors which have really benefited from grants. With Newcastle’s large technology sector experiencing a period of growth smaller companies “are given grants by larger companies in return for cooperation or exclusivity towards a specific part of their work, especially if the start-up can offer a service that makes their work easier,” Evennett explained.
The crucial final challenge which start-ups or SMEs face is industry competition. Finding the right level of competition can be very tricky. If your business is going into an area which is already highly competitive, being an SME, it will take a very distinct USP to make your business stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, an area in which you are the only business may seem advantageous to begin with but, in the long run, could actually hamper your business. As Evennett pointed out, competition within a sector and the wider marketplace is needed to “keep innovation and customer services at a high standard.”
While it may seem a daunting task to take on the challenges and others not mentioned above as a start-up or SME, success in business comes from making smart decisions and taking advantage of support when it is on offer.
Sean Evennett is the managing director of Bespoke Interiors who specialise in kitchen, bedroom and bathroom design and installation. More information can be found at their website.