According to our politicians, small businesses are to provide the backbone of the country’s return to economic prosperity. As a very hands-on Director of a company that provides telephone answering services for businesses of all sizes, it would appear that SME’s are continuing to flourish, even during these turbulent times.
With a client base that ranges across a multitude of sectors, I’ve always felt that our busy-ness was an excellent guage on how busy the world of industry was at any given time. and there are 2 main factors within this mix;
The volume of calls we are handling on a day to day basis for our existing clients and
The number of new enquiries we receive from SME’s requiring a virtual reception service.
On both counts, our evidence suggests that while there are some companies that are feeling the pinch, the majority of our clients seem to be keeping the wheels of industry turning at a healthy rate and we are fortunate enough to be a part of their success; with our call volume and our number of clients substantially higher than at the same time last year.
It doesn’t however appear that we are out of the woods yet though and the main concern that appears to be prevalent among my fellow business owners is that of what the future holds, rather than the current situation. There definitely appears to be a concern about making financial commitments and many are looking at cost-saving measures, such as using a virtual reception like Best Reception in order to enable them provide a consistent and professional image to their callers but without the need to commit to the costly impact of recruiting staff for the same purpose.
On this note, with increasing legislation coming into effect all the time, it is understandable that many business owners are looking at alternatives to recruiting staff and are outsourcing wherever possible. The imminent arrival of the NEST pension scheme is sure to deliver a blow to many small businesses who are contemplating expansion and recruitment of staff. It isn’t just the financial consideration of the 1,2 then 3% contribution that they’ll be required to contribute but also that innevitable administration that will accompany the change and ongoing management. According to this month’s First Voice Magazine (from the Federation of Small Business), an average small company “will pay at least an extra £2,550 per year in administration and pension costs”.
Looking at the bigger picture, perhaps the introduction of a compulsory pension scheme is the only solution to an ageing population however, at a time where many small companies are already tightening their belts and where our PM is quoted in the same publication as saying “[small businesses’] success is vital to delivering the jobs and growth on which the future of our economy depends” I can’t help but feel that an extra financial and admin burden doesn’t really seem particularly well-timed.
While this change in legislation may actually mean that more companies consider outsourcing their reception function to a telephone answering service, personally, I’d love to see more positive changes to help small business to thrive and therefore contribute even more to our all too fragile economy.