"Resilience is more important than ever – and brokers have a key role to play. "
We live in challenging times for businesses. The uncertainties of Brexit are making planning difficult, and many economists are forecasting an economic dip.
Dealing with market fluctuations is tough on any organisation but we know it’s even harder for SMEs who are often more exposed and more reliant on a smaller base of customers. Managing an SME is an all-consuming 24/7 existence and a challenge for anyone seeking a healthy work-life balance. It takes monumental time, determination and skill. In short, the buck stops with the owner and their own livelihood and that of their team rests on the decisions they make to adapt and grow the business.
With these pressures, resilience is more important than ever – and brokers have a key role to play. Yes, brokers are instrumental in providing businesses with the flexible finance they need – but this is only one part of an A to Z of service.
Rise of resilience
What do I mean by resilience? It has many sides to it, but essentially it is those elements that enable and arm a business with the skills and abilities to have a strong foundation to deal with and bounce back when faced with challenges. It’s about a focus on wellbeing – owners and directors taking the time to look after their own mental and emotional health, to step back when they need to and recharge. It’s also about emotional intelligence, and the ability to manage and motivate staff – a vital asset for any SME.
Running an SME can be a lonely existence and owners may feel unable to share their concerns and challenges with friends, families or with their teams. They often don’t have an extensive management team or the depth of counsel that comes from a board. Brokers, intermediaries and financial advisers support clients in developing resilience by being this sounding board. Whether this is simply sharing an idea or discussing long-term strategy, it can help a client to stay focused. They get to know them, understand their challenges, and listen to what’s keeping them up at night. Many of our clients truly value their broker relationships and rightly so – they have the potential to become a trusted advisor and expert friend. We all need a network and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. A good broker knows this more than anyone and can be that essential outlet and advisor. There are few areas more important for advice than encouraging an owner to take the rest we all need to be at our best. The art of upskilling and then trusting your team so you can take a break, can be the difference between a smoothly running organization and one that will become unstuck.
Go the extra mile
Being alert for signs that a client may be struggling as they juggle the day-to-day demands of managing a business in these uncertain times is a true value add.
Helping clients to stay resilient is also in brokers’ best interests of course. Successful businesses will often become loyal clients, continuing to get in touch when further financial support is needed and the connection can become more valuable over time. In contrast, it is in no one’s interests when a promising company declines or is even forced to close its doors.
Identifying and linking a firm to a good funding partner is an essential service for SMEs across different stages of their journey. The financial community also goes beyond the bottom line when it finds ways to better understand the importance of resilience and how companies can ensure they have a firm base to sustain them when testing times arise.