Small businesses, by their very nature, need to be able to find and engage independent experts to help them run their business. Why, because most are just not big enough to justify carrying the cost of that skill or capability inside their business.
A Global overseas rating agency Clutch in their 2019 SME Report found that of the businesses they surveyed, 37% were outsourcing services and a further 52% intended to.
Think about it in the context of Australia for a moment. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS June 2021), 97% of businesses in Australia are defined as small, which by definition means they have less than 20 employees. We’re talking about 2.3m small businesses in this country, of which 60% are sole traders and a further 26% have less than 4 employees. 68% generate between $50K and $2m in revenue, with 25% generating revenue of less than $50K.
The facts are, small businesses in Australia make a significant contribution to our economy, some 32% of GDP. And part of this is created by their need to source those skills and expertise needed to help them run their business that they cannot carry within it.
So, what are the most common specialists or independent experts that small businesses need to engage?
Well Clutch found in their survey the most common services small businesses needed help with were these:
Accounting – The typical small business owner will need accounting and bookkeeping support to help them track their financials, keep their BAS statements up to date, complete their annual accounts and tax returns etc. From time to time, this may extend to help needed with one off pieces of work that could include considering business expansion plans, business structure changes, acquiring a new business, purchasing new assets, reviewing agreements, helping with personal financial planning. No surprise that, within the CircleSource platform, over the last 12 months, we found 20% of jobs awarded have gone to Australian Accountants, Bookkeepers, Legal experts, HR Consultants and business service providers.
Legal – Interestingly though, legal services for small businesses have popped up regularly in discussions with business owners who find this type of specialist difficult to find and connect with. Most say they only need to access this type of support on very specific occasions – the sale of a business for example, but when they do, it’s not easy to find someone who can help them.
IT Services – What business doesn’t have a website these days? It’s not just creating the website, it’s the design that goes into it, the SEO requirements, many businesses need e-commerce solutions built in. Photo galleries are required, graphic design expertise is needed. Oh, and don’t forget UI/UX design expertise. Hosting and security advice is a crucial service. More and more businesses need to have access to the right experts to ensure they are protected. The list goes on. The most popular category in CircleSource over the last 12 months. 35% of jobs awarded have been to Aussie Digital and IT related specialists.
Marketing – Unless you’re big enough as a business to justify having a marketing expert employed in your business, most engage an independent marketing expert or agency to assist them. It could be to help them with their digital marketing strategy, or their brand strategy. They could also need some above – the line marketing advice and support. Many need help keeping up with their social media advertising or development of regular content or blog articles. Many just need advice and guidance from time to time to help them do it themselves. I guess that we’ve seen more than 29% of jobs awarded through CircleSource in the last 12 months go to some great Australian Marketing, Media and PR experts.
Human Resources – Small businesses typically only need to access human resources consulting expertise to help them with employment related matters when they need them. This could include development of employment contracts, setting up induction programs, maybe advice on leave arrangements for staff from time to time, development of employment policies, advice on performance management or support on investigations or even employee relations support. Health, Safety and wellbeing is a specialist area in itself and requires businesses to ensure they are compliant and provide employees with a safe work environment. Grouped with other business service providers across accounting, bookkeepers and legal experts, HR experts have been in demand through CircleSource over the last 12 months.
Training and Development – This can vary widely depending on the nature of the business. Businesses generally need support with industry – specific training and development. Many require them to keep up their professional development accreditation, while other businesses may provide coaching support to employees to help develop them.
So how does this resonate with you in your business? Does this sound like some specialist service expertise your business needs? Are you having trouble finding it?
I have spoken with many small business owners who, from time to time, really struggle to find and connect with the specialists and independent experts they need. Most find their need to engage with independent experts across these skill areas can vary substantially from year to year. Those skills listed seem to be the most common.
Would love to hear your feedback and comments.
CircleSource was created to help small business owners to easily find and engage these specialist service providers when they need them. It’s FREE to use, fully online and exists to simplify the way Australian SMEs source the specialist services their business needs. Check us out at www.circlesource.com.au