Nearly two thirds of small business owners are losing sleep over their company’s lack of productivity.
Sixty-five per cent of SME owners surveyed by Small Business said that their business productivity — or lack of it — keeps them awake at night.
Productivity has been dire in the UK since the financial crisis, sitting around 16pc lower than peer economies. The outlook remains grim, with a recent US study predicting that Britain will be the only advanced economy to experience falling productivity growth in 2019.
Finding and retaining the right staff is the overwhelming factor holding British SMEs back. Forty per cent of small businesses say that not having the right staff is hampering growth. When asked what was the one thing they’d change to improve their company’s productivity, one respondent groaned, “Hire a few more assistants” while another said they wanted somebody to help with sales and marketing.
Old-fashioned processes (28.4pc), out-of-date computer systems (16.2pc) and cramped offices (15.3pc) were also cited as other factors reining SMEs in.
Lack of cash flow to expand is seen as the biggest business challenge over the next 12 months (63pc) followed by finding and retaining staff (15pc), late payment from clients (13.9pc) and out-of-date IT (8pc).
Again, lack of money is the biggest barrier to small British businesses upgrading IT. Not enough money was cited by 79pc of respondents, with lack of digital skills, the other (21.2pc).
In terms of specifically what technology would help boost British SME productivity, the majority plumed for up-to-date business software (43.6pc), with 26.6pc citing being able to work away from the office, being able to store documents in the cloud (18pc) and implementing artificial intelligence to handle repetitive tasks (11.8pc).
“The one thing I’d change is having enough cash flow that myself and my partner aren’t relied on being on-shift all the time,” said one reader. “I’d like to upgrade my IT software to work more remotely and fast enough so that we can focus on in-store sales growth.”
“We need better technological solutions to enable better use of time and increase audiences,” agreed another.
One respondent said that lack of project management was the thing eating into their SME productivity. “Project management software tends to be aimed at larger companies with large projects. Being a small company undertaking smaller projects, this software is difficult to effectively utilise. Implementing an app that would allow us to track project management and time-manage staff would help decrease ‘downtime’ and increase productivity.”
The good news is though that British entrepreneurs keep up to date with technology (53.3pc) and an overwhelming 83.7pc of respondents care about the world we live in and want to be environmentally conscious.
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