UK SME Leaders Challenge Traditional Business norms

UK small businesses are challenging the traditional norms of doing business successfully according to a survey of 1,500 owners and senior managers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) released by T-Mobile. The research identifies a range of business conventions challenged by business leaders across the UK.

Traditionally accepted ideas of what constitutes business success, are increasingly being challenged with 58% claiming the amount of staff in the business can no longer be considered a benchmark of success. While more than a third (39%) disagree with the idea that the size, design and location of your office reflects the success of your business, suggesting a shift to alternative ways of operating as mobile working becomes increasingly prevalent.

A clear majority (94%) of business leaders are now happy to judge employees on results they achieve rather than how much time they spend in the office. In further evidence that working practices are changing dramatically, nearly half (49%) of those small business leaders surveyed said they do not believe in the traditional 9-5 working day, while over a third (36%) disagree with the traditional idea of the working week lasting from Monday to Friday, reflecting the growth of flexible working in recent times.

The research found that accepted norms surrounding cashflow management issues continue to confound and frustrate business leaders the most. A large majority of respondents (88%) believe it does not make sense that the tax office can wait until the next quarter for any tax mistakes to be resolved yet small businesses have to resolve their own tax errors immediately. Similarly, 81% of UK small business leaders feel that banks encourage UK business to grow in times of prosperity but withhold bank credit and are quick to retract support in tough times. 68% agree lump sum VAT payments should not be forced as they detrimentally impact cashflow.

Encouragingly for the next generation of entrepreneurs, nearly half (47%) of small business leaders surveyed disagreed with the idea that you must be over a certain age to be trusted as a business leader, which suggest that perhaps that experience is not such a pre-requisite when seeking management positions.

“The way business is being done is changing and with it, the mixture of ideas and perceptions that constitute success are being challenged and rewritten. These findings demonstrate how small business owners are putting themselves in control of their everyday business by increasingly challenging traditional business norms and asking ‘does this actually make sense for my business?” said Max Taylor, Head of Business Marketing at T-Mobile UK.

“Many businesses that are challenging accepted norms are the ones that can prosper the most as traditional measurements of success like age, experience and education evolve to suit a more technologically advanced business marketplace. Indeed, as technology continues to advance and working practises continue to change, more businesses can harness increasing mobility and flexibility to drive performance. We are keen to do everything we can to lend support to these businesses and give them the best tools and we can to help them succeed,” continues Max Taylor

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