Break through the growth ceiling

Phil Keoghan, CEO at Ricoh UK and Ireland explains why Britain needs to back ‘middle businesses’ struggling to achieve their full potential

While the majority of UK businesses are growing businesses, far too many seem be stuck in a holding pattern. Despite numerous Government initiatives and numerous business loans, too many of these are focused at the early stage entrepreneur or favour the enterprise behemoth.

As a result, the 75,000 businesses across Europe that fall into the ‘mid-sized’ category, are struggling to grow. In fact, recent research showed that mid-sized businesses could be missing out on up to £364 billion in missed revenue – nearly the same amount as the annual GDP for Poland.

These are not small numbers. Unlocking this potential would not only help these businesses to break free from this holding pattern and realise their full potential, but also significantly drive the wider economy and create jobs.

 Obstacles to growth

An overwhelming 93 per cent of businesses surveyed said they face barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. The need to comply with costly and complex regulation, attracting the best talent and finding, buying and applying the right technology are the top obstacles to growth.

One of the major challenges, according to 30 per cent of mid-sized businesses based in the UK and Ireland, is that they have yet to apply the digital solutions needed to enable them to scale up and becoming big brands. This is critical to capturing some of the revenue they miss out on each year.

But this hasn’t dampened their ambitions. 51 per cent of mid-sized businesses in the UK and Ireland plan to make initial public offerings in the near future and another 17 per cent plan to merge or acquire other companies to increase their competitive position.

With big plans, it’s critical that these businesses have access to the same perks that their smaller and larger counterparts do. Importantly, having the right technology in place can create a more productive business that can grow.

Lack of targeted support

With most government support focused on supporting budding entrepreneurs and other wider initiatives targeted at large enterprises, many growing businesses are feeling neglected. This makes these barriers to growth even more difficult to overcome without the right type and level of support designed to meet the needs of these organisations.

As a result, 70 per cent of mid-sized business say they suffer from ‘middle child syndrome’. Just like in a family environment, the bigger sibling, typically an over-achiever, are seen as the most important and get the most privileges. The younger sibling, or the ‘baby’ of the family tends to be the most looked after. As a result, the middle child becomes neglected without support from either parent.

Innovation fundamental to success

It’s not that different for mid-sized businesses. A lack of support and funding mean that many of these individual companies struggle to achieve their potential. Embracing change and harnessing innovation must be at the forefront if these organisations want to break free of the cycle, adapt to new working styles and truly grow.

At its heart, these middle businesses face the same structural and behavioural challenges regardless of where they are based or what sector they operate in. The huge potential that could be unlocked to drive economic growth as well as jobs should not be overlooked.

With ambitious plans to grow, attract talent and acquire other companies, and a great deal of revenue to be driven, more support is needed. It’s clear that these businesses could grow even more if policies were adapted to fit them. But, at the same time, now is the time for these businesses to prioritise innovation to ensure they can streamline their processes and adapt to change.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.