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SMEs – no risk, no reward?

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Behaviour and Motivation of Businesses in Scotland (Ipsos Mori 2018)

Research conducted by Ipsos Mori across Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland was commissioned by the Scottish Government in 2018 because at the time

  • Scotland produced only half as many scaling start-ups versus the rest of UK.

  • Scotland was below the EU average for medium sized enterprises engaging in innovative behaviours.

The Research grouped businesses into three categories: Growth Averse (don’t want to grow), Ambivalent (want to grow little and slowly) and Ambitious (actively want to grow). As you can see from the diagram above

- Growth Averse prioritise lifestyle choices

- Growth Ambivalent fear risk

- Growth Ambitious want rewards

Across the piece, however, SMEs cited a lack of skills, a lack of time and resource, financial constraints and uncertainty about the future as barriers to future growth.

That is perhaps why when we move forward to Scotland in 2021 and look at the National Performance Framework Indicators we see that the number of registered businesses per 10,000 adults has remained fairly static around 390 since 2016 and the number of High Growth businesses remains flat at 1.1% over the same period.

In addition, the percentage of innovative businesses dropped from 45% in 2017 survey to 32.2% in 2019, which is the latest data available.

Remember, most of this data is pre-covid. It may be even worse now!

What’s happening is that the very people the support structure in Scotland is set up to help don’t have the time, money or inclination to take what they see as unnecessary risks to attain the rewards from growth.