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Small Business Growth and The Guardian

We were honoured to be runners up in their first set of awards – in the export category – and since then have been invited to lend our thoughts to an online master-class and we also had the pleasure of being invited to the reception celebrating all the winners and runners -up at Guardian HQ last week.

Small businesses need all the help they can get and our own experience of starting up amply demonstrated how hard it is for a tiny enterprise to get attention from suppliers or to secure deals. We knew what we wanted to do, so that part was easy, but finding suppliers and services was quite a challenge.

We chose our bank on the basis of the first one to return our calls (it’s surprising how many high street names didn’t bother, despite advertising dedicated business services), our suppliers on recommendations and so on. It’s been great to be involved with The Guardian and we think we have benefited from networking and sharing ideas.

But it’s still surprising how little support there is. And that’s an area where we can help. Because of our experience across multiple markets, we spend a lot of time dealing with the problems of small and medium businesses that want to grow beyond their home markets. We can jump in at any stage of the process, although we like to take a good hard look at the situation before offering advice. We’ve developed a number of processes to help analyse the situation and go through a thorough review before we make recommendations.

After that, it’s a matter of execution. We find many companies still equate marketing with developing a shiny logo or putting up a simple website. Of course, that helps and we can generally work within that kind of remit, but it’s much better to consider all of the challenges and opportunities before deciding on go to market plans. That’s why we don’t start an engagement pretending to know the answers. We don’t have preconceptions. Of course, we know a lot about our markets and industries, so that gives us a head start, but not every solution is applicable in all cases.

We don’t have a template for our services, everything is customised from our toolbox, according to the needs of our customers and their means. That means that we can be flexible, think about things and deliver something achievable, actionable and worthwhile.

And that’s exactly what small businesses need. What The Guardian is doing is highly commendable in terms of providing a forum and reams of opinions, but we also know that our customers need constant input, support and engagement to help deliver what they want. And that’s what we strive to do.