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Scotland's SME Community: People Matter

15 Sep 2013

I attended the excellent 3rd National Business Convention yesterday, delivered by SCDI and The Federation of Small Business.

It was refreshing to see such a positive and vibrant SME community coming together under one roof. The sector itself is sadly one that doesn’t always get the media coverage it deserves but Scotland is home to many excellent Start Up and SME companies, some of whom I am delighted to call clients.

Whilst I have a long held understanding of the scale and diversity of Scotland’s SME & Start-Up community, when the significant numbers, presented by Brendan Dick of SCDI, were up in lights they painted a very compelling picture, and demonstrated just how import a Sector it is:

  • 99.3% of Private sector companies in Scotland are classed as an SME (employing less than 250 people)
  • Private sector SME’s employ nearly 1.09 Million people
  • 54% of the total Private Sector employment in Scotland
  • SME’s deliver 37.7% of the total Private Sector turnover to Scotland’s economy

The conference itself focused on three broad themes over the course of the day; Access to Finance & Funding, Environmental and Green Considerations, Technology and Innovation and People and Up Skilling.

Given my role as Client Operations Manager at Eden Scott is to deliver bespoke support and recruitment solutions to the start-up and SME community, specifically how they access and retain the best talent, I am unashamedly going to focus on the people related themes from the day.

I have been lucky enough in my career to have worked for two rapid-growth Scottish SME’s; Worldmark, and my current employer Eden Scott, two very different companies in two diverse markets; Manufacturing and Recruitment.

I am happy to say both are exemplars of unparalleled growth and remain hugely successful today. It caused me to pause and reflect on why this was the case. Yes they both had me, but without being narcissistic, it is without doubt the people that have made them prosper.

In both cases the employees are the heartbeat of the company. They have a massive pride in what they are a part of, what the business is achieving, which in turn fosters a great sense of ‘brand’ loyalty. Of course excellent management and leadership ensured this was the case!

By creating fantastic working environments where employees work in a largely autonomous environment, are treated as equals and where there is regular communication, the business and people move forward, as one, in the pursuit of a common shared goal; success!

Perhaps this is best summarised by saying, you can have the best product, manufacturing processes, R&D programme or service, but without the very best people backing them up, businesses will simply not succeed.

So where do these great people come from?

At the front end of the talent pipeline there are some excellent schemes such as, “The Graduate Recruitment Incentive”, “Adopt an Intern” and “ScotGrad”, all of which were launched this week by the First Minster, Alex Salmond. This is supported by the excellent work of organisations such as Skills Development Scotland.

These schemes and incentives are a much needed boost to the sector and will undoubtedly aid the succession planning process within the SME market. For me however, the “elephant in the room” is, “how do you efficiently access the talent marketplace” and “what do you do once you have made that all important new hire”?

Eden Scott’s recent study of Generation Y motivations "Generation Y: Changing Workplace Dynamics" paints a picture that means more than ever a robust Recruitment and Talent strategy is essential for all SME businesses.

This can be a daunting process and businesses must ensure that they get expert advice and support to ensure “people” remain at its core.

I know that Recruitment Consultants in general receive some negative PR as highlighted in my recent article "Should You Really Avoid Recruiters?". However a Professional and Dedicated recruitment partnership with a reputable recruitment partner will always deliver a cost effective, time efficient and synergistic support structure to your on-going talent pipelining, Talent Management and on-going staff retention activities.

It would be remiss of me not to point out that there is no “one size fits all” solution. Recruitment encompasses a broad range of processes and strategies. I will always advocate that you must ensure any talent solution you employ is scalable and is created specifically to fit the needs of you individual business.

Eden Scott offers a unique suite of recruitment and talent management solutions, all of which are tailored to specifically support the needs of start-up and SME community. I would be delighted to discuss your specific business needs, formally or informally.

Please get in touch.

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