The value of SMEs to the UK economy should not be underestimated. These businesses employ around 24.3 million people, and make up 99% of the 4.8 million businesses in the UK. Not only do SMEs contribute considerably to the local economy, but they also drive innovation. A high proportion of the 5,100 patents registered in the UK last year were from small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the European Patent Office.
This proves that there are exciting ideas being developed within the industry, but there are many challenges that come with running a small business, including staff recruitment, building customer relationships, marketing and money management.
In particular, cash flow issues can have a serious impact on businesses, yet UK construction firms are owed £7billion in unpaid invoices this year alone. This prevents organic growth in SMEs, and as a result, businesses also struggle to secure financial investment from hesitant banks. It is now more important than ever for ambitious SMEs to consider where their financial growth will come from, and have the knowledge necessary to secure investment and build a realistic business strategy.
Larger companies benefit from a wealth of knowledge and experience that can avoid such issues, but many SMEs are not as well equipped. This is why larger companies should take responsibility to ensure the sector in which they operate is thriving for the next generation and beyond, by investing in fast-growing companies and providing the skills needed to help businesses grow. The industry must adapt as a whole to ensure that opportunities for growth are spread across the UK, in order to secure the future of the sector.
This is why Saint-Gobain has set up the Entrepreneurship Foundation. To find out more, visit our Entrepreneurship Foundation area.