Small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) behave differently to large corporations. Everything moves at a faster pace and you see results much more quickly.
However, as an SME owner, you also have to get your hands dirty when it comes to admin, invoicing and staffing. While big companies have plenty of employees to help out, SMEs have to get creative…
Funding your company
When it comes to funding your SME, you will have to think outside the box. Unlike big corporations, SMEs don’t have years of financial records to back them up, so borrowing money from banks becomes difficult. Banks may request a lot of paperwork, offer high interest rates and you may face eligibility issues.
In a recent SME survey we conducted, only 28 percent of respondents managed to secure business finance and, of those, more than half thought the process was tedious. That’s why SMEs need to get out there and find other financing solutions. You can approach your family members and ask them to help fund your business. If that fails, approach angel investors, crowd funding programs or venture capitalists.
Building a team
Employees walk in and out of big corporations all the time and, if you aren’t directly working with someone, you’re unlikely to notice they’ve gone. However in an SME, every single employee counts – and impacts the morale of a business. Getting the right people in, who are passionate for growth, and building a solid team will help you increase revenues.
Spending on visas and recruitment
Because of sponsorship laws in the UAE, hiring people is expensive, and costs do not differ according to company size, whether you’re an SME or a big corporation. Sponsoring an employee can cost an average of AED 8,000, which includes a deposit of AED 3,000. If an employee decides to leave during their probation, you lose around AED 5,000. If you were only planning to recruit two people in a year, that’s half of the budget you set aside for the recruitment admin!
No economies of scale
Unlike big corporations, SMEs don’t necessarily have a dedicated staff member to do all the admin work, HR, or legal. Such functions are usually outsourced, but finding the right supplier can be a nightmare. You worry if your supplier understands your business, the market, and the region. And at times even finding one in the same country is challenge. The whole process can end up being time-consuming and costly.
You can’t ignore your company’s insurance needs and, depending on where you set up up your business, it might be a legal necessity. However, getting a good deal is not easy for an SME as you can’t benefit from corporate rates. Instead you end up with individual policies for your employees, paying extremely high premiums with just basic coverage. Employees are also left disappointed since they aren’t receiving the same medical benefits such as dental, eye care, or physiotherapy as they might have in their previous companies.
Luckily, it’s not impossible to get corporate rates. Having good relations with other SMEs can work to your advantage. You can collaborate with them and apply for a corporate plan. Brokers can also help you tie up with other SMEs, get the needed employee numbers for corporate rates, and bring down your premium by up to 30 percent. On the downside, you can end up with premiums set centrally, affecting the premium you pay in the following year. This is because, claims made by the entire staff will count towards calculating premium.
[Related: Why SMEs need to take insurance seriously]
Getting your company insured will let you sleep better at night. Yes, as start-up owners we aren’t fans of upfront costs, but ignoring the needs of your business can also be a mistake. Take time out to learn about the insurance requirements of your business and the processes involved. Consider policies where you’re covered in case of a fire or natural disaster, during an occupational injury, travel insurance, and life insurance for crucial members of the business.