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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn