2x3bookWith our global presence we often look across the pond to see what our colleagues in the U.K. are up to.  What we find interesting is that small business decision makers seem to lack the time for growth-related tasks when building their teams and businesses.

In honor of the U.K.’s first-ever Small Business Saturday that took place on December 7, 2013, Constant Contact released the results of an online survey to identify small businesses marketing pain points. The majority of small business decision makers surveyed report allotting only a small amount of time on tasks that could improve their business’ future outlook and pave the way for growth. Only eight per cent of the respondents’ time is spent on marketing/promotions, eight per cent on technology, and seven per cent on business planning. This would include team building activities as well as employee development and training. It appears this is a good opportunity for team building consultants.

Growth is one of the most important factors leading to small business success, evident by the fact that 75 per cent of small businesses pointed to finding new customers as a top concern. So why aren’t they spending more time focusing on it? It could be that they simply don’t have enough time left in the day. Tasks getting the most attention relate directly to the day-to-day maintenance of their business:

  • 20 per cent of time per month is spent on operations
  • 19 per cent of time is spent on customer service
  • 16 per cent of time is used handling accounting/finance of the business
  • 13 per cent of time is spent on sales

“Often, small business decision makers have to do it all—they act as operations manager, customer service representative, head of finance and more for their organisation,” said Tamsin Fox-Davies, UK development director at Constant Contact. “So it is not surprising that the tasks required for day-to-day maintenance of their business take priority, possibly leaving beneficial growth-related activities pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.”

Slow adoption curve

Small businesses in Great Britain appear to be slow to adopt marketing technologies designed to grow their businesses—not surprising given they are only allotting eight per cent of their time to marketing overall. The data shows low adoption in various marketing activities across the board:

  • Website – 68 per cent
  • Social media marketing – 29 per cent
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – 28 per cent
  • Local print adverts – 17 per cent
  • Email promotional offers – 11 per cent
  • TV/radio adverts – 3 per cent

Perhaps most surprising is that one third of small businesses in Great Britain do not have a website for marketing, with only 68% saying that they use one. Time again may be the culprit, with 29 per cent saying they wish they had time to focus on using a website to market their business.

“Those marketing activities small businesses wish they had the time for are also some of the more highly outsourced activities reported in the survey,” said Fox-Davies. “However, there is still a disconnect between those with a preference to outsource and those actually doing it.”

Of those small businesses participating in each of the following activities, here is who they reported primarily responsible for ongoing execution/maintenance:

In House Outsource Prefer to Outsource*
Website 66 per cent 33 per cent 29 per cent
SEO 56 per cent 44 per cent 38 per cent
Local print adverts 74 per cent 25 per cent 27 per cent
Online banner adverts 76 per cent 24 per cent 25 per cent
Social media marketing 93 per cent 6 per cent 14 per cent
*Results from same pool of respondents (small businesses who participate in the activity) but separately asked question.

Perceived barriers preventing outsourcing

Why are small businesses not primarily outsourcing these marketing responsibilities? Affordability is a barrier for many who primarily conduct each of the marketing activities in house: 28 per cent report they cannot afford to outsource local print advertising, 23 per cent report not being able to afford to outsource SEO, and 22 per cent report not having the monetary means to outsource social media marketing. Many expressed the belief that they have the skills internally to handle certain tasks. This was given as a reason for not primarily outsourcing by 60 per cent for online/banner adverts, 65 per cent for SEO, and 61 per cent for social media marketing. However, having the skills internally does not always mean having the time.

“What we’re seeing is that time-starved small businesses understand the value of various marketing activities but simply don’t have the bandwidth to take on everything they’d like to do,” said Fox-Davies. “They need to reach the realisation that time is money and outsourcing can be a smart option. Constant Contact’s 400-plus UK-based small business marketing consultants support many of our customers with marketing resources, and they report that SMEs who bite the bullet and hire a consultant soon appreciate having back those precious hours in their day.”

Leaders who spend time developing their teams often find that these tasks can be delegated without outsourcing. Yet outsourcing is still a key consideration because websites can be built with very little capital outlay. Organizations such as Elance.com offer outsourcing opportunities and a pool of experts available to tackle tasks on a project0-by-project basis.

Copy right TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton

MeetTom3About TIGERS Success Series

TIGERS Success Series offers 360 Team Diagnostics and Team Building Certifications to qualified internal and external consultants. Helping leaders build work culture and teams that demonstrate trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success daily in how team members treat one another, the organization and customers on a daily basis, these organizations are a source of inspiration for workers who come to work on Monday morning.  This builds better communities, too.