Thursday, 19 February 2015

(Don’t) Take A Chance on Them



Business is business, isn’t it? Whether you are large or small, the objectives are still fundamentally the same. Sell stuff, pay your bills, pay your staff and make some profit. Not necessarily in that order of course, but you get my drift. The bigger you get the more divorced the business gets from reality I suppose. There are too many layers and no one person can see the whole picture. So there are more policies and procedures.

But policies and procedures are forced on small businesses too, normally via legislation. However the smaller you are, the more you can duck and dive, claim an exemption, or avoid the bright spotlight of public scrutiny. I mean, if you are HSBC and you allegedly help your biggest customers open a load of Swiss bank accounts and avoid tax, you reach the front pages and hear yourself on the news bulletins. But if you are East Grinstead Widgets Ltd and you get one over on the taxman you are probably telling your friends in the pub and getting an extra round in.

What I am getting at is that the attitude is different. The small, lean machine that is your average SME has a much firmer, more personally responsible hand on the tiller. Decisions are made by the main men, quickly but confidently. Yes, they make mistakes, but they are the main men, so no one is getting hung out to dry. In your bigger business, responsibility is spread around and although the attitude might be set from the top down (One cannot imagine an Alan Sugar business being the most politically correct, for instance) the procedure is commonly followed, often slavishly. The things that press the decision making buttons are often the most different of all.

IT waste often highlights those differences. If you are big you have more waste to dispose of. You have to have the means to get rid of it, so you have a better, more regular relationship. Costs matter, of course they do, but so does service. So does reliability. So does the ability to get ones client out of a jam. These are often indefinable things that mean a lot to the person charged with getting shot of stuff. It is no use saving on getting rid of those 50 laptops because someone will do it for free if they don’t also take the broken desks, the old monitors, that pile of cardboard, all the cables and wires and those three broken printers. And actually you need someone to go up the sixth floor to get those servers and the lift is broken again. And you need to trust the paperwork.

I am not saying those things are less important to your average SME, but the risk management aspects of our service are less resonating when your hand is on the cheque book. Having a pile of old junk cluttering up an office or warehouse is less distressing when it is your junk and the staff committee are not going to exist, let alone moan about the working environment.

So in short I am saying to the harassed middle manager of a big business we tend to be a Godsend, a problem solver and a valued service, whilst to a SME we can be seen as an irritating cost the company could possibly avoid, if it bent the rules a little, or turned a blind eye to some of the things they were being told, remaining resolutely ignorant of what should be done.

They are always tempted to listen to ABBA. ‘If you change your mind, I’m the first in line, take a chance on me, honey I’m still free.’ But ABBA broke up, a double divorce, a messy break down that hurt everyone big time.

We keep our clients out of the divorce courts, or the clutches of the ICO, that Genghis Khan of regulators. And along the way we lend a hand if we can, whilst keeping your old kit out of landfill to boot.

Just because you are a SME, you don’t have to take risks.