The report highlights some of the challenges faced by SMEs in the post-Covid scenario

Vodafone launched today “SMEs Like Me””, a new report that focuses on the people and personalities behind the millions of small businesses headed for Britain’s economic recovery. The report also highlights some of the challenges faced by SMEs in the post-Covid scenario and identifies opportunities to do more to support this vital sector.

Commissioned by Vodafone and powered by Consumer Insights Firm GWIThe report was compiled by responses from over a thousand SME owners/founders and employees across the UK.

According to the report, one of the main priorities for a quarter of all SMEs in 2022 is to just stay afloat. This preference was even more acute in micro-businesses where the figure was as high as 32%. The report also shows that 59 per cent of SMEs have not sought any support or funding from any third party, and only 11% have sought advice from large companies or business consultants. Worryingly, 71% of sole traders were not seeking the support they deserved because they did not identify as SMEs and therefore did not believe that support was available to them.

Although many large organizations treat SMEs as a homogeneous group that are neatly tagged together on the basis of size and similarity, the report shows that in fact the opposite was true with SMEs, which came before them. The challenges were vibrant, varied and complex. As a result, the report goes on to identify eight distinct SME personality types:

, Passion Seekers – Company owners who started their business because they were passionate about the idea, to create a legacy, or to create something unique.

, Key Players – Business owners whose main motivation is the desire to be their own boss and take ownership of their careers.

, Sole Not SMEs – Self-employed people who identify themselves as a sole trader rather than viewing themselves as a small or medium-sized business.

, Need Entrepreneurs – Those who have started their business venture or joined a company out of necessity, such as a job loss, needing to supplement their income, or because it was the only viable option for them.

, Career Climbers – Employees working for SMEs who are most motivated by career opportunities, such as the diversity of roles and the potential for promotion and advancement.

, Community builders – SME business owners and employees who feel they are making a positive contribution to the community, or whose focus is on sustainability or helping others.

, Reevaluators – People who have worked at companies established in the past two years and at large are driven by the opportunity for greater flexibility and freedom, as well as the opportunity to give back to their community.

, Ever Presents – Owners and senior management of businesses that have been in operation for 20+ years and survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m not sure I could be more of a community builder if I tried,” commented Kat Pither, founder of the eco yoga mat and accessories maker Yogi Bare, This is the DNA of my business and community which is exactly what Yogi Naked is all about.

“We have built something from scratch and it is evolving all the time. It is also important to remember that SMEs are also a community, so we really need to talk openly about the challenges we face – There is no shame in admitting the obstacles in your journey. In my case, I needed to take a step back and look at my business objectively rather than emotionally – like many SMEs, I have always been available to me. Didn’t seek support because I was ‘at the moment’ grafting and grinding and trying to save the business, but it’s my responsibility to be honest about the realities of running a business so that people don’t feel lonely and shut down and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m trying.”

Abigail Baldwin, co-founder of the design agency buttercrumbles Said: “My sister and I identify strongly as passion seekers. As twins we used to sit and draw together and basically our childhood has grown into a business.

“But although we have this shared passion, this is just the beginning and the important lesson we have learned is the importance of activism. In 2022, I want to see more of it from both SMEs and organizations that can help us. It’s very rare for us to come along and provide you support, that’s something you really need to be looking for and as SMEs we need to get better at it because I know there’s money out there. And there is a very clear disconnect where departments and organizations, both public and private, are not clearly talking to each other. We have seen steady growth even during the pandemic, but during very difficult times It would have been great to have better and clearer support.”

As Vodafone spokesperson Andrew Stevens, Head of Small and Medium Business, Vodafone UK explains: “In 2022 we just have to do a better job of defining and understanding SMEs. We learned that 71% of self-employed people do not describe themselves as a small business, which means they may not believe they have access to the same support systems that other business owners have. Run big companies. This reinforces the need for better, clearer, more accessible advice and guidance.”

Vodafone has two central resources to assist SMEs in their journey, v-hub who provides an ever-evolving range of free expert guidance, knowledge and tools and training, along with free one-to-one mentorship, and business.connected Enterprise Nation, in partnership with Cisco and Samsung, is helping 150,000 small and medium-sized businesses adopt technology, foster digital skills, and stay safe online.

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