To say that economic conditions across Europe have been challenging for SMEs is to gravely underestimate the situation. SMEs are remaining optimistic, however, and Canon research into the mood of SMEs and SoHos across Europe indicates that there are key challenges to achieving this success though.
Research firm ICM recently polled over 1,200 small business owners across Europe. The research suggests SMBs and SoHos feel restricted in their attempts to grow, with some strong regional variations.
German owners tend to take the most positive outlook, while British owners have mixed feelings about business development. Spain feels focused on growth, but is hugely challenged by the economy, with 75 per cent of Spanish small businesses stating the wider economic situation in their country is the key external challenge.
This research highlights the underlying impact of economic conditions on small businesses, and while some countries are recovering, others are struggling to return to pre-recession confidence levels.
For many small business owners, external considerations will represent a frustrating bind. However, some key issues are within a business proprietor’s influence.
SMB and SoHo owners must have the flexibility to go out and communicate with clients in order to discover their new demands. As many as 45 per cent of European small firms recognise that identifying new business prospects and customer retention are key challenges, and 28 per cent of SMB and SoHo owners would like to spend more time on customer service issues.
Flexibility is a key component for small businesses looking to capitalise on the economic upturn and cutting administration is a way to free up valuable time and resources.
Canon research suggests more than a quarter (28 per cent) of SMB owners believe they spend too much time on paperwork.
However, with new print and cloud technology small businesses can reduce the time they spend on administration – freeing up more time to focus on what’s important to their business.
The battle to return to growth quickly means small business owners must spend more time to customer demands. And by overcoming the burden associated with administration, small businesses will feel more confident dedicating time to service, innovation and growth.