And the survey results are in. Our small businesses said…


Our small businesses want seminars and mentoring services


Smarter Society carried out a research project to ascertain what it is that small businesses want to see. While 20% wanted access to webinars, the majority wanted to see actual seminars (38%), where they attend a course and participate face to face. Second to this, they want to know that they can access a form of mentoring service (31%). This stood out above the rest of their needs and priorities. Businesses will be keen to attend very targeted or specialised training which will support them in common business challenges or skillset that are typically required to run a business successfully (sales and marketing). They will also be looking for someone who can answer their business development challenges that they are faced with at a particular time and help to identify potential solutions. 


Face to face teaching


People like to buy from people that they know, like and trust. The same is true in terms of training. People feel better connected to a trainer when they appear in front of them in a room, rather than from a screen. In time this is likely to change as people become more adapt to the remote ways of working and understanding that you can engage just as well with someone face to face as you can in a remote conference. On top of this, there are systems that will allow you to engage with other people in the training and go into breakout groups. However, some people may not have experienced this and may feel more comfortable with the ability to meet people face to face.


When would they like this training?


Respondents indicated that they would rather attend training between 9 and 12. The next selections opted for early morning or evening courses. If someone is going to undertake training they would prefer to get this out of the way during the morning. This could also be down to the fact that people head off to more of their client meetings in the afternoons, or balance their commitments around their business in the afternoons. You are more likely to receive a bigger uptake on your courses if you focus them around these key times. 


What are the biggest areas that these businesses need support in?


The top three priorities for businesses were business growth, sales and marketing, with social media coming a close fourth. This is not surprising as these SMEs that we surveyed were majority companies with 3 employees or less. It is likely that they are having to learn the skill set of sales, marketing or both, if they haven’t had particular experience in either. Often if people have worked for larger businesses, they will only have experience of one or the other. Plus if they have never run a business before, they will be looking for ways to acquire these skills from experienced entrepreneurs or people who have the skillset, rather than a trial and error approach. On top of this, new small businesses often don’t know where to start to go and find clients or to generate business, or might grow quite quickly to start with and then not experience much growth in the following years. If you can offer them the training and mentoring for them to be able to achieve business growth, you will be supporting your local business start ups to be more successful and more sustainable too.


How does this benefit your council?


By giving your local community the skillset to run their own businesses they are likely to be more invested in the local community and the local council. They will support and reciprocate the support that have received. Some may be able to offer local employment opportunities in the future, others could be able to invest in local apprenticeship funds or to deliver their own apprenticeship scheme that will deliver skilled workers back into the local community. It also helps to encourage the community to be more connected and to focus on investing within their community, whether that is by working closely with skills to deliver back presentations on how they grew their skillset to set up their own business. They could offer sponsorship and investment into local play-schemes, parks and other local initiatives that rely on local business support and investment. If they invest in a physical store or site, you will be able to generate more funds from derelict retail space or warehouses which builds more revenue and funds for the council. 

If you are interested in finding out more about running a start up training course for your local community, contact us here.


Survey was conducted at the end of 2019. Over 1600 small businesses took part in the survey.

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