When running an SME, it can be incredibly difficult to dedicate the necessary time to stay abreast of the latest industry news and changes affecting the economy and the small business climate. However, keeping up to date with the latest happenings could be vital for your business to meet changing regulations and stay ahead of the competition.
This round-up of the most important news stories affecting SMEs in Q2 2017 will help you stay up to date and in the know.
The Federation for Small Businesses has urged the government to implement energy price caps for small firms. The FSB has expressed concerns that small businesses are subsidising overall energy costs for domestic customers.
A report by Ofgem has revealed that small businesses are the most likely to be overpaying for their energy. With brokers reaching fewer small businesses in 2016 than 2015 (down from 64% to 50%), it is possible that these business owners are not being presented with all available options.
The FSB is also keen to regulate brokers and third-party intermediaries (TPIs) to ensure they provide a service which meets set standards. This will encourage small businesses that brokers and TPIs are working with their best interests at heart, and could help effectively lower their energy costs.
Other related changes which have recently been implemented include the end of auto-rollover contracts and more transparent tariffs – helping small business owners make more informed and clearer choices when choosing an energy provider.
Over the past year, corporate firms have invested more money and time in SME collaborations than research and development. Figures from law firm, Bond Dickinson, show that large corporates are investing 65% more in deals with smaller partners than traditional R&D avenues. More than £20bn has been spent by large businesses in collaboration with smaller enterprises, across 1,111 deals, over the 2016/17 tax year.
Jonathan Blair, managing partner at Bond Dickinson, attributes this to the unique qualities provided by businesses of different sizes when chasing innovation:
“Collaboration with SMEs has become a key strategy for delivering corporate innovation.
“Business leaders know that neither corporates nor SMEs are perfectly built to deliver innovation alone, but the reach and power of one, combined with the agility of the other can be a potent combination.”
Through this collaborative approach, enterprises of all sizes stand to make great gains – utilising the wider range of resources and skills at their disposal.
High-profile cyber-attacks on large businesses and organisations such as Nissan and the NHS have led to headlines around the globe. But, despite this, almost half of small businesses do not have a cyber security plan in place to protect their workforce and their stored data.
This is according to data from financial group, Smith & Williamson. Their research shows that 45% of small businesses have neglected to implement a sufficient plan to resolve the fallout from a cyber-attack.
According to Smith & Williamson partner, Fergus Caheny, failing to impose a cyber security plan has far-reaching effects, even when a cyber-attack has not taken place.
We recently spoke to Andrew Grill, Global Managing Partner at IBM and frequent TEDx speaker, about the importance of cyber security. He explained the importance of all businesses remaining continuously alert when it comes to cyber security:
“For an investor, a business that has thought about their cyber security and has more control of their tech estate can be more attractive for investment. It shows that they take these things seriously and is a reflection of the culture and values the company has.
“A well thought out, and developed, cyber security plan tends to translate to a business that can identify and react appropriately to the many factors affecting their business. Control of their tech estate is key for any well-managed company. It is now, and increasingly in the future, one way for an investor to get to the heart of a business and ascertain the true nature of the management and the culture within.
“Businesses shouldn’t be complacent about their online security, because hackers are always creating new ways to disrupt digital technologies. Assume you will be hacked and come from a position of strength, developing a security platform that can cope with current and emerging threats. With so many employees requiring access to company files via their personal devices, expect that a security breach will come from within your firm — often not intentionally.”
You can read the full interview, here.
More than half of UK SMEs claim to have a diverse workplace, and a further third have stated that increasing workplace diversity is a key focus for the next 12 months. These figures are from a survey conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of specialist bank, Aldermore, which surveyed more than 1,000 senior business decision makers in the UK.
Employing a workforce made up of wide-ranging age groups of different ethnic backgrounds and with an even female to male ratio, is seen to be a major concern amongst UK SMEs. In addition to building a diverse workforce, almost 40% of small businesses revealed they are much more likely to do business with a supplier or partner which boasts a similarly diverse workforce.
Carl D’Ammassa, Group Managing Director of Business Finance at Aldermore, enthused: “It is heartening that so many UK small and medium-sized business owners describe their workforce as diverse. However you define diversity, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, promoting a diverse workforce should be a key consideration within any business, since employees from a range of backgrounds can offer different experiences to help drive the success of progressive businesses.”
Despite the positive figures, there were still a number of respondents who revealed they have no intention to improve diversity, with 22% responding that workplace diversity was a low priority for their business.
For more small business news and insight, visit the Gazprom Energy blog. Or, if you’re keen to find out about our business energy solutions, head to our homepage or call our team today on 0845 230 0011 for help and advice.
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