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Two in five SME owners consider their own management team prevent growth – survey

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Mike LloydMike LloydMore than two in five (41 percent) business owners in the South West fear their own management team will prevent them growing, according to a survey by Swindon-based chartered accountants Haines Watts.

Their concerns, say the Old Town firm, are legitimate as more than half (57 percent) of local management teams have never helped grow a business in their previous roles.

Business owners and their teams have to work hard to put the planning and communication in place to overcome these challenges.

“Many management teams aren’t unified behind a strategic plan and they often don’t possess the complete trust of the business owner. This means the knowledge essential to the future success of the business is locked up in the heads of just one or two people," said Mike Lloyd, managing partner of Haines Watts Swindon.

“This can leave management teams uninformed and restricted when it comes to stepping up. Business owners therefore have to think operationally and so have less time to plan and think strategically.”

According to national research by Haines Watts conducted among 500 UK SMEs there are several obstacles to overcome:

Poor planning - more than nine in ten South West business owners (91 percent) are only able to spend a fraction of their working week planning for the future.

Business owners who are able to step back and focus predominantly on planning are more than twice as likely to run fast growth businesses (annual growth greater than 15 percent).

Failure to communicate - despite almost half of business owners lacking in trust in their management teams, the teams don’t realise trust isn’t there.

Almost nine in ten (86 percent) of south west senior managers believe they fully understand the business owner’s goals and the same number (86 percent) hold the, often false, belief they would be trusted to run the business even in the owner’s absence.

Lack of support - even among business owners across the UK with a full formal management team, only just over half (60 percent) believe they have the full support of that team.

The perceived lack of support is so stark that over a third (37 percent) of south west SME owners believe their business couldn’t survive more than a single week without them at the helm.

The study is based on interviews with 500 owners of UK businesses, which are at least two years old, have a turnover of between £1 million and £50 million with ten to 249 employees.