Market analysis and sample chapter for LifeNetworker
This book is aimed at both British and non-British entrepreneurs and small- to medium-size business owners trying to access each other’s markets/communities and trying to offset the uncertainty of Brexit. By virtue of being a guide to multicultural business networking, it is also for any business worldwide that would like to expand their business into the British market.
There are 5.7 million small- and medium-sized firms (SMEs) in the UK. As mentioned earlier, 99% of the private employment sector is made up of SMEs, which all together account for up 60% of the UK’s private sector employment. Within this arena of SMEs, the Polish community alone accounts for roughly 30,000 small businesses and another 80,000 Poles are self-employed.
Expanding the scope to all non-British nationalities, it was found that in 2017, 12.9% of immigrants were early-stage entrepreneurs (compared to 8.2% among the UK-born population as a whole – i.e. all ethnicities), and in its 2014 study, the Centre for Entrepreneurs, supported by the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, found that migrant-founded companies employ 1.16 million people out of a total of 8.3 million people. This shows that, as with company formation, migrants are responsible for 14% of SME job-creation. Another study by Aston University in Birmingham found that in 2017, immigrants to the UK were twice as likely to be early-stage entrepreneurs.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) further states that approximately 3.8 million people living in the UK in 2017 were citizens of another EU country. This amounts to about 6% of the UK population, although the following table provides a better view of the resident migrant populations in 2017:
In other words, the non-UK market alone for this book is close to 740,000 entrepreneurs and small- to mid-size business owners.
However, for a fuller picture of how many SMEs would fall into this book’s target market, it was estimated in 2016 that 9% of UK SMEs traded internationally, and that a further 15% of them were within the supply chain of other businesses that export. Given the 5.7 million SMEs in the UK, the potential market is then more than 510,000 exporting SMEs and a further 855,000 directly linked to export – or a total of 1.3 million businesses. To be clear, though, this is only the potential number of businesses – it doesn’t speak to the exact number of business owners, partners, and employees who make up these businesses, and who are directly concerned with the issues this book seeks to address.
As mentioned, roughly a quarter of British-based SMEs are involved either directly or indirectly in international trade. There is no figure on how many of the SMEs trade or wish to trade multiculturally within the UK. However, according to the 2018 study by the University of St Andrews School of Management, a vast number of these entrepreneurs are concerned about the effect of Brexit on growth, innovation, capital investment, and access to external finance.
Looking over several Best Sellers lists, the top 3 most commonly read business books, by topic, are:
- Innovation and Opportunities,
- Leadership guides,
- Networking and people skills.
There were on average two networking/people skills books per top 10 list, and I believe it’s worth noting that Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People (a networking and people skills book) has been in print for over 80 years and rates as the best-selling business book of all time.
Pick up just about any book on business networking and you’ll get the usual, cookie-cutter advice of having a structured approach, business cards, a prepared sales pitch, to make sure you follow-up, and so on. A good networking coach will also tell you that networking can’t really be boiled down to a checklist, and that your success will really depend on your personal and “soft” skills. For example, someone might tell you that you always want to arrive early for a networking event, but I would take it a step further and teach you how to get a feel for the room (almost so that it doesn’t matter when you get there). Understanding people’s body language helps you get a sense of whether their group is open to others or closed. I would also tell you to check in with yourself – you might be tired after a long day, you might be nervous – so you can start where you’re comfortable instead of trying to tough it out and fake it.
Despite the rise in online job searching tools and networking sites like LinkedIn, it’s generally known among recruitment professionals that most people still find work through face-to-face networking. According to a friend of mine who happens to work for a recruitment agency, that number is as high as 80% for senior positions. And even beyond the professional benefits of face-to-face networking, there are the social and psychological benefits. Meeting people in person allows you to develop a relationship that can be more immediate and more supportive than one you might have online. You can call the people you meet, and you can talk to them. To put things into perspective, Steven Burda is the most connected person on LinkedIn. But how many of his 50,000+ connections do you think would lend an understanding ear if he were to contact them to talk about the rough patch he’s going through at work, or just to let off some steam?
I’ll go deeper into the benefits of networking later. Suffice it to say for now that there are many more than you might expect. If you’re reading this book or another one like it, let’s just say that it’s fair to assume you’re curious and that you may have identified your current networking skills as a (potential) weakness.