No. 1 Threat to SME Business Owners — LONELINESS

Tony Drury, through his experience of working on the board of a number of PLUS Markets and AIM-listed companies, has become a specialist in providing financial, strategic and commercial advice to some of the most successful PLUS-quoted companies. Tony is also the author of a number of finance books and has recently turned his hand to writing fiction.

Tony comments on a recent survey which takes a look at the threats UK SME business owners consider affect them most. However, what most of them miss is the biggest, most serious threat of all……

“WE SEEK HIM HERE, WE SEEK HIM THERE…”

Within the depths of the Broker Network survey of 500 SME owners into the threats to their businesses, there is a little gem. Many chose to focus on threats to their reputations, or regulatory changes or perhaps the imposition of the minimum wage. One respondent, however, referred to the reality that “there’s nowhere to hide.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel worked in the dark and his identity was known to only a few.

How many SME owners wish they could achieve a similar style of work practice? The truth is that, from early dawn to late evening, only one (or perhaps two) people really command the centre of attention. Every difficult phone call is directed to the owner/manager. Every Health and Safety Officer heads straight for their office. All the difficult staff issues are handed to the boss. Supply difficulties seem to bypass the managers. If the Inland Revenue appears, everyone scatters. That’s before the issue of cash flow is considered.

It might be argued that the most serious threat to an SME is the loneliness of the owner/manager: there is nowhere to hide.

The full quote is from ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ by Baroness Orczy:

“We seek him here, we seek him there,

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere,

Is he in heaven — is he in hell?,

That damned elusive Pimpernel.”

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