The future of business support

One of the key ways that SMEs have been supported in many countries across the world has been through organised support structures. In the case of high-tech, high potential businesses there has been additional specialist support; often linked to universities and funding groups.

But for the run of the mill self-employed person or small traditional start up then the support has been of a much more traditional nature. Don’t get me wrong; this approach has proved invaluable to many. Giving businesses a firm grounding in all of the elements of running a business, such as marketing, sales, operations, production, HR and so on, has often been the difference between success and failure.

But the recent pandemic has changed much of what we would have called the run of the mill businesses. Existing SME’s that have survived the pandemic business wise have had to fundamentally adapt their business model.

By this I do not simply mean going online. This often requires reacting to new opportunities whilst recognising the lesser appeal of existing offerings. It has required finding new ways of reaching customers and disseminating information to them; it has meant finding new ways to identify potential clients and keeping existing ones.

Many people talk about AR, AI, big data and other new concepts, but with little or no understanding of what they are or the benefits of becoming involved in them.

These are not skills that come naturally to many people and hence they often don’t know how to meet these challenges. These are things that need to be brought to their attention and to train them in the decision-making processes and techniques to meet the new challenges. They need assistance in using different ways of developing their business in the ‘new normal’.

The good news is that the delivery vehicle already exists in the business support centres across the world. I know that many of these are perfectly able to react provide they recognise the need. I know as I have help establish many of them.

That is not to say that those business skills are not necessary. However, on their own their application will become less beneficial. Those business centres that grasp this new opportunity will not only increase their value to clients, they will increase their sustainability and will be a fundamental cog in the recovery from the pandemic.

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