August 5, 2022

SME Business News

Small Business News UK

Three quarters of small business owners change business direction in some way from original plan

Young woman looking at camera and smiling at drop shipping business office at home. Smiling online store business owner packing parcel boxes for delivering to customers.

  • Only 30% of SME owners say they achieved their short-term business goals in the time frame initially set
  • 75% of SME owners changed direction of business in some way, with 17% making big changes to the original plan
  • Survey reveals 88% of SME owners turning over £500,000 secured investment to help their business grow
  • Despite over a third (36%) of SME owners starting their business for more flexibility, 15% admit they have struggled with work-life balance

Small business lender, iwoca, has surveyed SME owners across the country to reveal that starting a business and setting goals may not always go the way business owners expect.

Three quarters of SMEs shifted direction in some way 

iwoca’s survey revealed that 75% of SME owners said the direction of their business had changed in some way since their original plan. Moreover, when reflecting on their original business plans, 17% of SME owners decided to entirely change the direction of their business.

Since this full change in direction, 67% of these SME owners now have an annual turnover of £500,000+, and 18% have an annual turnover of over £1 million.

Changing the business plan is not the only way in which business owners said things didn’t go as expected.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of SME owners didn’t achieve their short-term goals within their initial time frame and budget

The survey reveals that over two-fifths (44%) of SME owners who said they needed extra time to complete their initial goals took on average 7-12 months longer to do so:

Extra time needed by SME owners to complete initial short-term goals Percentage of respondents who agreed with this statement
Up to 6 months 0%
7 – 12 months 44%
13 – 18 months 26%
19 months – 2 years 13%
3 – 5 years 11%
More than 5 years 0%

Sharon Pocock, founder of accountancy firm Kinder Pocock: “Focus in business is extremely important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will go to plan or exactly how you set out as part of your original strategy. As Accountants, our job is to help this process and make sure the business owners we work with continue to evolve and maintain their focus whilst remembering why they started in the first place.

“Make sure the business is working for you, not you working for the business.”

The survey also reveals that long-term goals often (in 50% of cases) took at least 13 more months than expected to achieve. In order to combat this, 17% of business owners reduced their short-term goals in order to achieve them within their initial time frame and budget. Furthermore, 22% said they had to increase their budget in order to achieve their goals.

iwoca spoke to life coach and therapist, Danny Greeves, about the importance of realistic goal setting: “Setting achievable goals is fundamental to staying motivated and focused on achieving your business dreams. When we set a realistic goal and achieve it, our brain gives us a burst of the feel-good chemical dopamine. On the other hand, when we set an unrealistic goal…we begin to accumulate evidence that we cannot do what we set out to do, this increases self-doubt and leads to the self-image shrinking.”

SME owners face loss of sleep and a lack of work-life balance 

iwoca’s survey also highlights the mental and physical challenges SME owners can face when starting a business. The most common physical/mental challenge being “loss of sleep”, which affected one in six (16%) respondents:

Mental and physical challenges faced when starting their own business Percentage of respondents who agreed with this statement
Loss of sleep 16%
Non-existent work-life balance 15%
Feeling more stressed 15%
Mental health and wellbeing affected 14%
Physical health and wellbeing affected 11%

To view the full research, which includes examples of successful companies for inspiration, please visit iwoca: https://www.iwoca.co.uk/insights/goal-setting-for-sme-owners-iwoca/

In order to support business owners with their mental health, iwoca has partnered with online therapy platform, Spill, to offer free therapy sessions to SME owners who feel they would benefit from the support. SME owners can register for their sessions here.