The dichotomy of business ownership

At the 2022 Be the Business conference held at Leeds Armouries the first session of the day looked at the dichotomy of SME leaders entitled “Ambition Beyond Growth”.

Research conducted by Be the Business revealed that only a third of business leaders surveyed were looking to grow their business moving forward but found that 90% of SME leaders wanted to improve their businesses.

In fact Anthony Impey MBE, CEO at Be the Business started the panel discussion by noting that part of the cause of this dichotomy is the term SME, which is quite misleading and it refers to such a broad group of businesses – those employing up to 249 people.

Impey said: “That title could refer to a newsagent as well as a hedge fund and obviously they have very different needs. Our research highlights the diversity of opinions from the sector.”

Bill Esterson, MP, added that Government policy is part of the challenge on this topic stating it has been very focused on supporting the large multinational firms and often takes for granted those smaller businesses.

“We talk about a term ecosystem and it’s important to note that that includes both large and small businesses and needs them both to survive and grow”.

Sandy Needham, CEO of West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce added: “We don’t value sole traders and micro businesses enough. But we must remember that all businesses are on a journey.”

Martin McTague from the FSB echoed the previous speakers and explained the reason that growth is perhaps low on the SME agenda is because many founders started out to “take more control over their lives” and as such the thought of growth could lead to them having less control.

Ultimately the session ended noting that if the country is to deliver the growth demanded by levelling up Government needs to realise the power that exists in the SME market which is the powerhouse behind the economy.

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