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News & opinion

9 APR 2020

The future of SMEs

Our profession is faced with an exciting challenge as the world around us takes exponentially greater technological and economic steps forward each year. The social, political and economic changes that shape our world also bring challenges for businesses of all sizes, and at all levels. The range of services our profession now offers, meanwhile, is as diverse as the size and makeup of the businesses that deliver them to clients.

As chartered surveyors, we conduct our business adhering to core principles and we act within a well-developed set of conduct rules and guidelines to maintain our clients’ rightful expectations of our consistent and trusted brand. Our common strength is our developed knowledge – handed down from chartered surveyor to apprentice in a well-practised and disciplined manner. However, we must remain proactive and dynamic. Modern professional and business life must be a balance of traditionally developed intellectual skills and cutting-edge technology.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face different challenges to their larger competitors. Among them is a comparatively limited ability and resources for planning and working towards business goals, such as recruitment and retention of core staff required to continually improve the quality and breadth of their services. The responsibility of planning, organising, recruiting and training all falls to the senior professionals, who are also responsible for leading delivery. So, SMEs have to try to be smart about how they use their time and resources to make sure they can achieve their business goals.

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SME's must pay attention to use of resource and time, in order to achieve business objectives

Our top priority as an SME is finding key staff to fit the team and ethos of the practice. The chartered surveying degree apprenticeship is a great way for smaller firms to access young, enthusiastic professionals. Well-chosen and managed apprentices make a noticeable difference to how workload is handled, and, in a demanding working environment, the support they give their team can quickly become indispensable.

Working within a clear development plan (we call it “pre-APC”) and with regular interaction and feedback from all levels of the team the apprentice serves, we can plan and manage their development alongside their formal education, often adding a “real world” element to their development.

Successfully integrating an apprentice into your SME requires you to start early. Investing a little time to find your future talent could be more fun than you might imagine. And once you’ve found a suitable candidate, remember that structure and vision are essential; young people need to be able to see what their career plan might look like from an early stage.

SMEs have to be smart with time and resources to achieve their goals

Technology is more accessible at all levels of practice and is one of the main ways we work smarter and more safely to meet the increasing demands of consumerism and premium outcomes. We use virtually free apps to handle tasks that not so long ago required bespoke software. Cloud solutions enable us to work and communicate with broad teams, contributors and clients. And social media platforms are competing with websites as our most effective way of reaching out to new and existing clients.

Fundamentally, our profession requires great people and communication skills at all levels. We may be managing or working with our clients’ buildings or assets, but, inevitably, it’s how we communicate what we’ve added to the relationship that matters and produces long-standing relationships – not to mention diverse and exciting careers.