Many of our customers fall into the micro business category which is defined as ten or fewer employees. All too often business topics are discussed in terms of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) which covers all companies up to 250 people. As we deal mainly with micro business owners we feel that sometimes this section needs to be treated differently.
We invited one of our customers, Amanda Brown of A2B PR, to give her views on why a micro business should be viewed differently.
Micro business is becoming big business in the UK. According to recent research by Enterprise Nation and Direct Line, as many as one in 30 Britons is a micro business owner, equivalent to around 2.17m businesses employing nine members of staff or less.
With the research estimating the average turnover of a micro business to be £286,000, it shows the important contribution of our sector to the wider economy, which is all great news.
While there are now greater efforts to ‘talk’ to us, micro businesses are often still not defined separately from other small businesses (despite the fact that SMEs can employ up to 250 people), entrepreneurial ventures or start-ups.
Yes, we have all been start-ups and yes we are also small businesses but the challenges, strategy and outlook of a micro business doesn’t necessarily fit into the one-size-fits-all SME compartment.
I’ve just enjoyed reading a piece by Adina Wollam, a US micro business champion pointing out several salient differences in our make-up and outlook (link: Adina Wollam micro business), so pleased to share me perspective based on being a micro business for more than a decade.
While an SME will often cite red tape, late payments and holidays as key challenges, for a micro business these often take on a heightened level of acuteness, causing stress and threatening our existence.
As we’re running the business, it’s easier to miss important changes that will impact us (such as the Government plans for tax digitisation or auto enrolment of staff).
Holidays are a particular pinch point, requiring a different strategy and need to plan so we don’t lose out on business if we don’t have staff to cover while we’re having time off.
We want a successful business, but that definition of success doesn’t necessarily mean expanding, employing more staff or tripling the turnover.
In fact, we’re far more likely to define success as our satisfaction in doing a job well, having satisfied customers and a significant proportion of repeat business, and achieving a better work:life balance.
Of course some micro business owners will be go-getters and there’s nothing wrong in that. However for every entrepreneur, there will be a micro business owner whose strategy is to keep doing what they’re doing well.
They’re main strategy is to retain a good client base or consistent customer turnover while keeping staffing levels low and simply being in the position to keep enjoying the actual doing.
For many of us, this will be our second career, having already gained significant experience from working for bigger businesses. This means we’re not dreamers, we’re more likely to be realistic and pragmatic, and solid service-providers.
We realise the benefits of sharing and collaborating with other micro businesses, whether it helps us run our business more efficiently, opens up new avenues or helps others solve a problem we have overcome.
We do this because, going back to the earlier points on our outlook, we like helping others and in the micro business sector there is a healthy level of reciprocity which means, further down the line, we know we will benefit from somebody else’s wisdom given freely.
Amanda Brown is the founder of A2B PR – a Yorkshire based micro business
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