Posted on: 27 January 2015

We have recently spoken to a number of small business experts to ask them what one thing had particularly impacted their business over the last year. They have also shared what they think is going to be the next ‘big thing’ for 2015.

Sarah Carlile, founder of Coconut Creatives, shared her personal thoughts and experience about her business development in 2014:

“Our business has most positively benefited from training and funding this year. We received GrowthAccelerator funding for a project to help align us and produce a new five year growth plan. A fantastic coach pushed our boundaries and asked the difficult questions, as a result of which we had no excuse but to put things into action. We also became GrowthAccelerator coaches ourselves so that businesses can work with us on a matched funding basis.”

Training, coaching and mentoring are all key elements of successful business development and growth. But it doesn’t stop there. Terence Mauri talks about the power of networking and the effect it has had on his career:

“Businesses must survive many miracles to grow, especially in the early years. Having strong networks has enabled me to access contacts and opportunities that otherwise would be out of reach. I call this my intelligence network. It doesn't grow by accident.“

Entrepreneur Len Rainford, who has spoken to us in the past about his top networking tips, supported Terence’s opinions, and tells us his story:

“The one thing that has most positively impacted my business in 2014 is the power of connections. Within a month of selling my last company in February I was receiving calls from people that I had built up relationships with, asking me to work with them or for them as a consultant and this has continued throughout the year.”

With many forms of networking available, from local groups to global communities, it can be challenging to know where to start. Len goes on to tell us what he thinks is going to be the next ‘big thing’ that will help small businesses prosper in 2015:

“Embracing the digital age is a must if small businesses want to develop and grow but the one "Big Thing" that I think will help small businesses to prosper is collaboration. Working with like-minded people, sharing knowledge and ideas, giving back to the community and forming business "partnerships" is the way forward.”

So it seems that in this day and age, social networking and online communities are a must have for any small business looking to flourish. As many business owners will know, it can be a daunting and life changing decision to set up on your own, so how do people survive? Jon Norris, a freelance writer for Crunch, shared his thoughts:

“The Government finally seems to be coming around to the idea that UK micro-businesses need more support, and if they choose to embrace it more support for the self-employed at the Budget could be a game-changer for freelancers, contractors and start-ups. The self-employed currently run huge risks with very little protection - if the Government introduce more employee-style protections for the self-employed it will galvanise what is already a strong movement into a real economic force.”

Simon Alderson from VPS (Vacant property Specialists) has a slightly different outlook on the current financial situation, and has this to say about the coming year:

“We may be coming out of recession, but value will always remain highly significant in any purchasing decisions. To find the right balance between maintaining quality and surpassing customer expectations, but within a budget, SME's will need to keep improving what they're best at anyway - customising solutions, tailoring services to clients so that they pay only for services that they need, and the customer experience matches the promise. To accomplish that means more of harnessing experience and expertise with technology and innovation. That will be the 'big thing' - if you like, it's SME's own take on Big Data and the Internet of Things.“

So maintaining and expanding your business network should definitely be a focal point of the coming year, as well as ramping up your training and coaching. Does this mean that things looking up for the small business owner? How can we focus our efforts to ensure that we get the best out of this year? Stuart Crook from Wellers Accountants considers a different angle:

“A buoyant construction industry has far reaching benefits for the economy. SME’s provide a number of services and products directly to the construction industry – tools, equipment, labour, professional services. The construction industry invests in retail, infrastructure etc. The industry also builds houses that need to get paid for – banks lend money on secured assets and improve their balance sheet and turnover. Banks are therefore happier and hopefully able lend to SME’s more as a result.”


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