Inside Business: Small firms show that they're quick on their feet

HARD work, strong customer relations, a good product or service and the ability to adapt to changing markets are the keys to the long- term success of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), says a new report.

Janet Weitz, chairman and founder of FDS International, the market research company that sponsored the survey to mark its 25th anniversary, said: "Because you can make decisions quickly and easily, you can grab opportunities as they arise, which can have a very positive impact on the quality and quantity of the products or services you offer."

The "Silver Jubilee Survey" covered more than 200 businesses each having fewer than 250 people and turnover up to about pounds 11m. Another finding was that such organisations found recessions easier to cope with than larger counterparts because they stuck to what they were good at rather than diversifying, and kept overheads low.

Moreover, many of the companies had long been practising the management theories now in vogue at large organisations, such as marketing to specific customers and concentrating on the development and welfare of staff. About half those surveyed had worked with a large share of their customer base for more than 10 years, and many had very low staff turnover.

In contrast to large corporations, which are constantly merging in an effort to get even bigger, owners of SMEs appear to have chosen to stay the same size. Stephen Link, the FDS director who compiled the report, said companies had a core philosophy that allowed entrepreneurial managers and owners greater control and nurtured better customer relationships.

The focus of these long-running SMEs, one-third of which had been in business for 40 years or more, was clearly on quality and integrity and, in many cases, the lifestyle of owner-managers. Most were family businesses and were not for sale. However, there were questions about the future because, although many of the owner-founders and managers were in their 50s, few seemed to have made plans to disengage themselves in terms of retiring, selling or passing on the business.

Ms Weitz added: "In common with many of the respondents , I love running and owning a successful business. It is seamlessly connected with the rest of my life and it's what gives me a buzz."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition