Chichester Chamber Blog
'In My View'... Are small businesses putting themselves at risk?
I recently read an article reporting that in 2016 there were 5.5 million small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK, employing 15.7 million people and generating an annual turnover of more than £1.8 trillion.
This is a huge sector and you would think it would keep business advisors fully employed to the point of demand exceeding supply. But this isn’t the case. When I talk to business owners, many say they do most things themselves even when they know someone else far more qualified and experienced who could do it better. So, it appears there are a lot of businesses running their own books, doing their own accounts, dealing with staff contracts and employment issues while, at the same time, ensuring they meet their legal obligations and hoping they don’t fall foul of the law.
While some people do this very well, others say they just don’t get around to it, some even say they don’t know what they should be doing.
Some of this is down to cost, especially with start-ups, and I accept that businesses won’t want to spend on advice they feel they don’t need. However, when it comes to some activities (or inactivity) the cost of getting it wrong can be far greater (just look at the current last-minute scramble to get compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations due to be in force in May).
As an HR specialist, I’m increasingly surprised at how many businesses don’t have any real HR provision in place – even if just to help with the basics. I’m also surprised by how many employees appear to accept what really comes down to unacceptable behaviour, often amounting to inadvertent law-breaking, from their employers.
The argument, I suppose, is that external support is a costly luxury to small businesses – but this isn’t always the case. There are many ways to engage in affordable expertise and advice before you face the financial consequences of leaving it too late.
CCCI members’ meetings and events give businesses the chance to talk about issues that are important to them. Meeting other business people and getting to know them in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere provides members with their own informal support network – as well as the opportunity to develop good business relationships and learn about various funding initiatives.
Dianne Lambdin, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and The Sussex HR Hub