Ultimate Finance

Supporting SME clients on the resilience journey

The term ‘resilience’ has become a popular buzzword in business circles and within the media.

It might be tempting for many to see this as a ‘nice to have’ that isn’t fundamental to the bottom line, but we believe it’s an essential characteristic to nurture in the complex and fast-changing environment in which we work.

Resilience has never been more relevant as time and effort is spent by leaders looking to navigate their way through Brexit uncertainties. Planning is proving extremely challenging; the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU and the date it will happen is a changing picture, leaving many businesses struggling to know how to prepare. This can be even harder for SMEs who are often more exposed and reliant on the decisions of a smaller base of customers.

Understanding resilience

What exactly do we mean by resilience? Business resilience is the ability to plan for different eventualities and adapt to disruptions or changes in circumstance. A resilient SME is one that can bounce back when faced with testing times.

We know that many SME owners long to establish this sort of resilience, but they often feel fragile and vulnerable. Running an SME can be a lonely existence, and many feel unable to share their concerns and challenges with friends, families or with their teams. They don’t usually have an extensive management team or the depth of counsel that comes from a board. This is where brokers, intermediaries and financial advisers step in to provide vital support.

Supporting clients on the resilience journey

Managing an SME is an all-consuming existence and a challenge for anyone seeking a healthy work-life balance. As a broker, you don’t just have a front-row seat watching the actions of a business, you’re sat alongside the owner as a trusted adviser on the way they need to go. You can be best placed to observe and pick up on signs that all is not well and when operations are heading in a challenging direction. Take the opportunity to encourage owners and directors to look after themselves, and step back when they need to recharge. As a smaller business, they’re probably a compact, close-knit team with less resources. This doesn’t mean HR or people-related decisions are made easier. There are many routes to achieving a motivational and engaging working environment. From your position of neutrality, you can use your perspective and experience to suggest options that can help support the right setting.

Resilience is also about emotional intelligence and learning how to manage work relationships wisely and with empathy. Emotional intelligence may sound a bit lofty, but it’s the key to both personal and professional success. Wonderfully, it is also something that can be developed (even though it rarely features on business courses).

Brokers are instrumental in providing businesses with flexible finance, but they can also play a key role in helping them stay resilient. This, of course, is in a broker’s best interests — no one wants to see a potentially successful business fall apart because it hadn’t developed sufficient resilience. Also, happy and healthy businesses will often become loyal clients, continuing to get in touch when further financial support is needed and recommending the broker’s services to others in the SME community.

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