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Report: The Ambitious SME

By Andrew Dalglish -

SME businesses are a passion of mine.  I founded one (Circle!) and as a B2B specialist I regularly explore the opinions and behaviours of SMEs.

But before I go on, let’s be careful with that label of ‘SME’. Even if we exclude sole traders, there are still more than one million SMEs in the UK alone. Inevitably with a group of that size, there’s a lot of diversity – different attitudes, behaviours, needs and opinions. So, to define your target market as ‘SMEs’ is a good start, but misses an awful lot of nuance (that deserves a blog post all of its own – see my colleague Andrew Dalglish’s exploration here).

That said, there is something which in my experience is common to most SMEs – ambition.

Sure, some SMEs are lifestyle businesses set up to enable a particular way of living. Some have run out of steam and are happy just plodding along. Others still never even set out with the intention of being market leader. But a new study from SAP and Circle Research proves that these are exceptions to the rule.

Our global survey of over 800 senior strategic decision-makers in SMEs reveals that 9 in 10 describe their business as ambitious. A hard core of around half of the population (46%) go further and use the term ‘very ambitious’. If we isolate these particularly ambitious businesses we see that they have a lot in common:

  1. They have a common mind-set. They are strategic, energised and pioneering; very ambitious businesses don’t wait to see what happens, they reach out and grab the future
  2. They employ people in their likeness. Ambitious companies employ very ambitious people (after all, it’s the people who will achieve the ambition)
  3. They place significant emphasis on technology. Adopting new technologies has already given them a competitive advantage and they want to be early-adopters going forward

And strong ambition pays off. Over the past two years, nearly half of very ambitious businesses (48%) have seen revenue growth of more than 30%, compared to just over one quarter (27%) of (simply!) ambitious companies.

Read the full report here.

Find out more about Circle Research’s B2B marketing research services here.

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