At a glance
- SMEs are vulnerable to changes in their local economies
- Advise SMEs on their growth plans, offer solutions
- Assess the opportunity to work with local business support organisations
SMEs are more vulnerable to changes in their local market, but the extent of their vulnerability fluctuates regionally: almost two thirds of SMEs in some cities remain reliant on trading locally — leaving them vulnerable to the effects of job losses, welfare cuts and constrained wages than others.
Small Business Outlook 2013, published by Centre for Cities and supported by Zurich shows that the health of the local market is one of the most important factors in determining the success of SMEs.
The effects of the recession and austerity measures are being experienced differently in different cities. SMEs in Cambridge, Crawley and Reading are likely to be best insulated against further cuts, while SMEs in Hull, Liverpool and Blackpool may feel the effects of their customers spending less money in their local economy far sooner and far stronger.
The benefits of being local
When dealing with SMEs, local knowledge and relationships have always given brokers their unique understanding of success factors in the local market. Brokers can help their SME customers simply by clarifying the confusing mix of business support available to them. By taking a critical role in local business support network, brokers can also help find more effective ways of encouraging local small businesses to access relevant support.
Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities said: “Support from local partners, as well as national organisations such as UKTI, will be vital to helping SMEs diversify their customer base and even move into exports”
Richard Coleman, Director of SME at Zurich added: “It is important that both local government and local business groups not only assess their current small business base and its comparative strengths, but also understand and plan for the changing shape and challenges of the SME sector on the horizon.
“The SME landscape is in a period of significant change influenced by increasing globalisation and new technological developments among other things. We are also seeing the transformation of the traditional high street and these trends are having an increasing impact on the growth opportunities and risks for local small businesses – from the tradesman to the high-street retailer and the exporting manufacturer.”
Brokers can help to simplify the confusing mix of business support and work with business support organisations to find more effective ways of encouraging local small businesses to access relevant support to grow outside of local markets. Brokers can also tap into Zurich’s knowledge of multi-jurisdiction solutions for those SME businesses with overseas aspirations.
Simply speak to your Zurich contact to help your SME customers understand how they can export to other domestic and international markets. Local businesses and brokers can also look to social media to target and interact with new markets.
For more information, see the Insider article Cracking the Social Media Nut.