In The Institute’s latest report, Small business: the big challenges of sustainability, research data and case studies research has been combined to create new, practical guidance for businesses.  The new guide also includes direct quotes from business leaders, who talk about their own experiences and how they overcame their own challenges. 
Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards at The Institute of Leadership & Management, said: “As we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the next few months and years are likely to be very tough for many small firms and this free guidance could really make a difference. Sharing the experiences of successful small and micro businesses will support future leaders in navigating avoidable failures and sustain their businesses, contributing to the economic recovery.” 
She continued: “The stark assessment of plummeting gross domestic product (GDP) and warnings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the global economy could shrink by three per cent will be worrying to everyone, but particularly to small and micro business owners – so it has never been a more important time to support them.  We already know that many small and micro businesses don’t survive beyond their first year – and the average SME has already lost a third of their income due to the crisis – so 2020 will have made a difficult growth period even more challenging.” 
The launch of this latest research coincides with further free support for SMEs from The Institute. It’s hugely successful, free daily webinar series, ‘Learn How To’, focuses next week (26-29 May) on how to sustain an SME. The live, daily, 30minute webinars, in collaboration with We-LEAD at The University of York, comprise presentations from Institute experts, ‘Ted-style’ talks, panel discussions and Q&As from expert guests. The webinars will explore topics such as getting better at selling, surviving and reimagining the future post-pandemic and The Institute’s new research with recommendations for SMEs.  
The Institute will also be making its expertly curated resources, relevant to its report recommendations, available free of charge for a limited time on The Institute’s website. 
Kate added: “Until now, not enough attention has been paid to the sustainability of small and micro businesses.  This is why we wanted to use our extensive research to give business leaders practical advice and first-person insights on how to sustain their SMEs. The webinars will give business owners an opportunity to find out more about the research and ask questions relevant to their business.” 

The guidance focuses on a number of key challenges faced by business leaders and identified possible solutions to help overcome them: • Challenges to business success – identify what SME leaders can do themselves or who else can help. • Running the business – find a balance of time and effort between the daily running of the firm and the long-term strategic thinking. • Problem solving, learning and innovation – be proactive; try different approaches, ask for help, conduct research, problem solve and continually learn and innovate. • Networks and relationships – access valuable resources beyond the firm. • Sourcing information – seek advice and information; this is critical to business success as this will build knowledge of the business, market, product/services and customers. 
Kate Cooper concluded: “Sustainable businesses aren’t built overnight, particularly in a post-pandemic world, so business leaders need to remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint.  Focusing on the three Ms – knowing their markets, building an understanding of money management and learning to be a good manager and leader – is a good starting point and will really help with this process.  We know this report will be useful to many small and micro businesses, as they focus on building a sustainable business during this difficult time.” 
Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at The University of York, added: “The collaboration with The Institute highlights now more than ever the importance of evidence led research solutions which provide practical support to SMEs when it matters most. It is vital that we ensure SMEs continue to flourish and innovate to create sustainable and resilient economies.” 
To download a copy of Small business: the big challenges of sustainability, please visit

Notes to editors: 
This research combines data from the Longitudinal Small Business Survey (2017) with case study research. The 2017 Longitudinal Small Business Survey (LSBS 2017) is a large-scale telephone survey of owners and managers of private UK businesses, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The survey was conducted between August 2017 and January 2018 by BMG Research Ltd.  The survey measures a range of characteristics, capabilities, growth and survival statistics, support and challenges faced by small and micro businesses within the UK, with selected statistics used within this report.  In addition, four separate case studies were researched, providing evidence and insights used within this report, including the ‘Case in Point’ example. These explore approaches adopted by small and micro business owners to overcome challenges they face and identity good practice. 
In the research, The Institute, WE-LEAD at the University of Birmingham and the University of York have outlined the top 10 key steps to sustain a small and micro business. See attached infographic. 
Before the crisis, micro and small firms played – and still play – a critically important to the UK economy, as they accounted for the majority of UK private business, employed 12.9million people and had a combined turnover of £1.4trillion.  Micro businesses account for 33 per cent of private sector employment and 22 per cent of private turnover (BEIS 2018 figures), while small businesses account for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses and generate 52 per cent of all private sector turnover (FSB 2018 figures). 

To download a copy of Small business: the big challenges of sustainability, please visit For more details or requests for interview, please contact Pippa Hanson / Luke Aldridge at Camargue: [email protected] / [email protected] or 01242 577277.  You can download a press pack about The Institute here
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