04 DEC 2020

Small Business Britain: What's Next?

By Charlotte Keenan

If we have learned anything from 2020, it is that often uncertainty is the only certainty.

Entrepreneurs are equipped to deal with uncertainty better than most. Even in ordinary times, their everyday is defined by how they adapt and find opportunity in adversity. This is particularly true of our 10,000 Small Businesses community.

As part of our recent Small Business Britain: What Next? Summit we convened over three hundred 10,000 Small Businesses graduates from across the country, to reflect on their experiences and how they are navigating the challenges ahead. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the impact of Brexit and changing geopolitical tensions, there were incredible stories of resilience and innovation. Whilst the challenges they have faced this year are unique, they were optimistic about the future and confident in their ability to bounce back better.

There is an immense amount we can all learn from this population as we all adapt and stay motivated for the months ahead:

1. Clarity: In confusing times it is essential that we as leaders are as clear as possible, both with ourselves and with our teams. We need to confidently set a direction and tell our teams how we are going to get there. Baroness Karren Brady summarised this perfectly as part of our recent summit: “You mustn’t confuse leadership with management. Management is about setting out tasks and managing people to deliver them, leadership is about vision”.

2. Creativity: We need to constantly evaluate our approach and be nimble in responding to changing circumstances. For 10,000 Small Businesses graduate Niamh Barker this meant being creative and ensuring her business reflected the new reality. As CEO of The Travelwrap Company, Niamh realised she needed to rethink her marketing – faced with lockdown and an increased range of online shopping, her customer base was looking for authenticity. She worked to highlight the story of her business, putting her own voice directly into her marketing and creating a genuine connection with customers.

3. Community: Our networks are now more important than ever; in tough times, we all need that shoulder to lean on. Throughout 2020 we have seen countless inspiring stories of 10,000 Small Businesses graduates working together. Whether its collaborating on new products; filling gaps in each other’s supply chains or just being a general sounding board, these businesses are an incredible reminder of the importance of community.

Never have I been more overwhelmed by the sheer determination and strength of these entrepreneurs, than I have been over the past 8 months. 

My final message to small business leaders across the country: keep going. We need you and your visionary leadership. The economic recovery of the UK through the pandemic and beyond is dependent on your success, as small business champions.

Together, let’s make the next phase of small business Britain the best yet.


Charlotte Keenan is head of our Office of Corporate Engagement International