Size doesn’t matter – it’s all about attitude.

Author: 
Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

There is a lot of talk about the need to support SMEs (in English that stands for Small and Medium Enterprises) who are the engine of growth for the UK economy.

 But what constitutes a small business?  I started to do some research and it depends who you ask and why you are asking. The Government statistics defines small as employing less than 50 staff and Medium fewer than 250.

Interestingly 99.5 per cent of all Norfolk businesses employ less than 200 staff with 85 percent employing less than 10. As an aside in public sector speak businesses employing less than 10 are defined as micro– a term disliked intensely by small businesses who fall into that category.

So does size matter? Well yes and no. If you are after government funding it matters a lot as if you don’t fit the number of employee and turnover criterion set by the different funders you do not qualify.

However what is more important to an individual business is their size in relation to their own sector. A firm of a given size could be small in relation to one sector where the market is large and there are many competitors, whereas a firm of similar proportions could be considered large in another sector with few players and/or generally smaller firms within it.

At the Chamber we feel is it not necessarily the size, shape and age of a business that matters as much as their attitude, although we do realise that the number of employees does often determine the structure of the business.

 Although a small business ourselves, employing 12 staff, Norfolk Chamber due to the nature of our business and the expectations of our members has many of the structures of a larger business i.e. accreditations such as ISO9001 and IIP. This combination of accreditations and versatility works for us as it is a differentiator.

What is clear is that our Norfolk Chamber smaller members are living up to their reputation of being dynamic and successful.  We asked the question recently to our members “What is particularly exciting about your business right now?” The answers came back loud and clear!

There are too many quotes to include them all but comments include  Liftshare: ”Signing up some huge new clients like Vodaphone, Serco and nPower” Deltic Training: “Increasing amount of business overseas” Right Angle Events “ We are currently in a state of excellent growth and have taken on new personnel” Paul Robinson Partnership “The implementation of BIM technology and collaboration across all projects is a real step forward. ”AFA Projects “Changing delivery methods – we recently delivered training in South Africa from our converted cow shed” Britannia Fire “Double digit growth in turnover and in profit” Tax Assist Direct “International expansion to USA Canada and ANZ” and there were many many more.

As the economy starts to show promise it is really great that Norfolk’s smaller businesses are alive and very much kicking. The future will continue to be challenging but there is no doubt this sector of our business community is up to the challenge.There is a lot of talk about the need to support SMEs (in English that stands for Small and Medium Enterprises) who are the engine of growth for the UK economy.

 But what constitutes a small business?  I started to do some research and it depends who you ask and why you are asking. The Government statistics defines small as employing less than 50 staff and Medium fewer than 250.

Interestingly 99.5 per cent of all Norfolk businesses employ less than 200 staff with 85 percent employing less than 10. As an aside in public sector speak businesses employing less than 10 are defined as micro– a term disliked intensely by small businesses who fall into that category.

So does size matter? Well yes and no. If you are after government funding it matters a lot as if you don’t fit the number of employee and turnover criterion set by the different funders you do not qualify.

However what is more important to an individual business is their size in relation to their own sector. A firm of a given size could be small in relation to one sector where the market is large and there are many competitors, whereas a firm of similar proportions could be considered large in another sector with few players and/or generally smaller firms within it.

At the Chamber we feel is it not necessarily the size, shape and age of a business that matters as much as their attitude, although we do realise that the number of employees does often determine the structure of the business.

 Although a small business ourselves, employing 12 staff, Norfolk Chamber due to the nature of our business and the expectations of our members has many of the structures of a larger business i.e. accreditations such as ISO9001 and IIP. This combination of accreditations and versatility works for us as it is a differentiator.

What is clear is that our Norfolk Chamber smaller members are living up to their reputation of being dynamic and successful.  We asked the question recently to our members “What is particularly exciting about your business right now?” The answers came back loud and clear!

There are too many quotes to include them all but comments include  Liftshare: ”Signing up some huge new clients like Vodaphone, Serco and nPower” Deltic Training: “Increasing amount of business overseas” Right Angle Events “ We are currently in a state of excellent growth and have taken on new personnel” Paul Robinson Partnership “The implementation of BIM technology and collaboration across all projects is a real step forward. ”AFA Projects “Changing delivery methods – we recently delivered training in South Africa from our converted cow shed” Britannia Fire “Double digit growth in turnover and in profit” Tax Assist Direct “International expansion to USA Canada and ANZ” and there were many many more.

As the economy starts to show promise it is really great that Norfolk’s smaller businesses are alive and very much kicking. The future will continue to be challenging but there is no doubt this sector of our business community is up to the challenge.

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