This has led to the perception that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are frequently ignored by larger, established companies and that these larger businesses have more success when it comes to accessing finance and bank loans, and this finance rarely trickles down to the smaller industries. But it isn’t always necessarily so. I believe that there are benefits to a partnership between small and big business.
Winning a big business contract is the Holy Grail for many SMEs. It guarantees a steady cash flow for financially-starved enterprises and security – both of which are vital for the credibility of the business and for developing a platform to grow their own sources of funding. SMEs can – and often do – partner with larger corporates to access resources that can help them develop their innovative product offerings, give them larger volumes to work with and a competitive advantage.
On the other side of the table, many large companies place great value on relationships with smaller businesses seeing them, for example, as a pool of innovation and creativity. For other companies, including Western Union, SMEs are vital and valued clients.
They are also one of the most important economic forces in the country and their success is linked to the health of the wider economy. In the UK alone, there were an estimated 4.9 million private sector businesses at the start of 2013, and 99.9 per cent of these were SMEs employing an estimated 14.4 million people – representing almost three fifths (59.3%) of private sector employment.
Their strength as a powerful economic force and a large potential customer base for big corporations is particularly clear when you consider that the combined annual turnover for SMEs is £1.6 trillion.
And their fortunes are changing for the better as the Western Union Business Solutions International Trade Monitor highlights. SMEs have fought for survival throughout the global financial crisis, are now are investing more and focusing on long-term goals. Our latest quarterly economic confidence survey of UK SMEs engaged in international trade, found an increasingly positive sentiment amongst small businesses. 90 per cent of SMEs believe that their business growth will either stay the same of improve in the next year.
This optimism will have a knock-on effect up the corporate ladder; large companies should see their revenues grow as their small business clients mature. With this in mind, it is more important than ever for large corporates and SMEs to work together for mutual benefit.
The UK is one of the most vibrant and forward-thinking environments for businesses, large and small, to establish, develop and thrive. The economic recovery depends on companies of all sizes and the more that can be done to highlight and improve the strong collaboration between SMEs and their larger counterparts, the better.
Christina Hamilton is UK Managing Director of Western Union Business Solutions.
 Department for Business Innovation & Skills, 23 October 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/254552/13–92-business-population-estimates-2013-stats-release-4.pdf
 Source: Western Union Business Solutions International Trade Monitor – Q3 2014 — http://business.westernunion.co.uk/resource-centre/international-trade-monitor/