SMEs turn to collaboration in light of improving economy

With the economic recovery starting to take shape, many SMEs in the UK are looking to work together to bolster their sales and business potential.


While some remain concerned about the extent of the recovery – half of the companies questioned by CitySprint feel survival is still a top priority – many are looking towards a positive future.


Some 68% of businesses agreed that working together can be beneficial, meaning 3.2 million SMEs are collaborating with an average of 16 businesses each to share skills and expertise.


Those in London, the North East and Yorkshire topped the list of regions most likely to collaborate, with 80%, 78% and 71% of companies respectively choosing to do so.


The report details a noticeable change in the attitudes of businesses as well, suggesting that whereas collaboration last year was seen as a tool to survive, now it is a tool to ‘thrive’.


This is despite companies continuing to suggest that red tape, limited access to a talented workforce and a lack of finance remain a barrier to growth.


It represents a positive step for companies who carried out business restructuring during the recession, while it also opens up more opportunities for business rescue if required.


Increased outsourcing


Aspects such as IT, marketing/advertising, sales and customer services have all been the key factors for businesses looking to develop in 2014.


That represents a change from last year when training and legal services were seen as being of vital importance.


According to the survey, 28% of companies are working with others to develop sales leads and build new business.


Meanwhile, a third admitted to feeling more prepared this year than last, thanks to new processes and networks that have been developed in that time.


“SMEs turned to each other to maximise efficiency and output during the downturn and are now starting to collaborate in different ways,” said Professor Robert Blackburn, Director of Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University.


“This includes a focus on bringing in support for functions which will help them grow their reach and market share, perhaps even into related activities and new geographical territories.”


By Phil Smith


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