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Advertising and marketing vital for small business growth

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Smaller firms are fully aware of the importance to their business operations of skills in advertising and marketing.

In its latest Voice of Small Business survey, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that, among the 1700 respondents, almost a half (46 per cent) of business owners regarded sales, marketing and PR training for themselves as an aid to business growth.

Just over a third (34 per cent) said similar training for their employees would also have the same positive impact on the development of their business.

Another third (32 per cent) and 20 per cent respectively recognised customer services and basic communication skills as integral to business growth.

The FSB said that businesses need to be able to promote themselves in new and foreign markets and to use social media and new technology to advertise their services and products. 

As such, marketing and communication skills are central to success.

However, the FSB report also pinpointed a shortage in the talent pool available to smaller firms. Small businesses are more likely to take on low-skilled individuals than large businesses. Previous research revealed that 10 per cent of the employees in micro businesses have no qualifications, compared with 5.6 per cent in the largest organisations.

A proportion of small enterprises appear happy with in-house, informal training instead of joining up to recognised courses and qualifications.

The FSB has urged the Government to help incentivise small businesses to take on more apprentices and graduates. The business group also wants the Government to assess the Qualifications and Credit Framework so that it acknowledges the informal training that takes place in small businesses. 

John Walker, the FSB’s national chairman, commented: “For small firms to grow, they need to train staff in the skills that will impact on their bottom line. The Government has to step up and support small firms in leading the economy back into steady growth.

“It is vital not to lose a generation of young people to unemployment and a lack of skills training, so the Government must provide incentives for small businesses to take on apprentices and graduate interns which will provide businesses with key skills to sell their services and products in new and emerging markets – especially for exports overseas.”