Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises In The UK Economy Essay Sample For College

Introduction

The impact of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the economy of a country cannot be neglected. The concept of SMEs is defined as small and medium enterprises depending on the number of employees. In the UK, a company is considered small with up to 49 employees and medium with up to 249 employees (Gledson and Phoenix, 2017, p. 224). With the world constantly changing, the impact of SMEs on the economy changes as well and needs to be continuously evaluated to predict possible consequences.

SMEs in the UK: Overview

A primary way to evaluate the growth and financial contribution of micro, small and medium private organizations to the UK Economy is by looking at the statistics. Statistics show that in 2020, there were more than 5.9 million private businesses, with about 99% being SMEs with less than 250 employees (UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021, para. 1). More than 50% of the UK private sector turnover in 2020 was accounted for by SMEs(UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021, para. 1). SMEs provided more than 16 million jobs which were more than 60% of all jobs in the private sector (UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021, para. 1). As Table 1 shows, most SMEs have up to 9 employees (Ward, 2021, p. 5). Statistics show that SMEs have a crucial impact on the economy and employment in the UK.

Table 1 SMEs in the UK by a number of employees. (Modified from source: Ward, 2021, p. 5)

Businesses

(000s)

Employment

(000s)

Turnover

(£ Millions)

0 – 9 employees 5,725 9,162 931
10 – 49 employees 212 4,140 646
50 – 249 employees 36 3,535 694

The latest political and economic factors that impacted the development of SMEs across the world, including the UK, revolve around COVID-19. A recent survey shows that about 80% of SMEs report declining revenues (Albonico, Mladenov, and Sharma, 2020, p. 2). They are mainly concerned about defaulting on loans and their ability to retain employees and supply chains (Albonico, Mladenov, and Sharma, 2020, p. 2). Moreover, the impact on the UK economy is shown by the fact that SMEs are expected to rely on government support. For example, businesses take advantage of the government’s furlough program, which provides 80% of a furloughed employee’s salary (Albonico, Mladenov, and Sharma, 2020, p. 3). COVID-19 has impacted almost all industries and continues influencing SMEs in the country.

Another factor that impacts the development of SMEs in the UK is Brexit. A recent survey shows that about 56% of SME business owners are having difficulties in trading with the EU countries (SME Data Hub, 2021, para. 8). On the other hand, more than 30% of the surveyed say that they have not experienced any impact from Brexit (SME Data Hub, 2021, para. 8). However, research shows that for most of the UK, the effects of Brexit actually started only after January of 2021 and the real impact is to be seen (Marshall, Jack, and Jones, 2021, p. 2). Despite the government being ready to provide help, some businesses report having problems navigating the guidance, for example, finding GOV.UK is “difficult to use” (Marshall, Jack, and Jones, 2021, p. 12). Although some SMEs do not report experiencing much trouble regarding Brexit, there are businesses, especially those exporting to the EU, that have issues.

Analysis of SMEs

The role of SMEs can be seen by their contribution to the national economy. SMEs account for total revenue generated by businesses and create job placements. Figure 1 shows the growth of businesses in recent years in the UK (UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021). SMEs contribute to the development of different industries from retail to agriculture, from logistics to science. To broaden the views on the contribution of SMEs is important to analyze SMEs from different aspects such as various industries, regions, and countries.

Growth in UK businesses in the private sector by the number of employees
Figure 1 Growth in UK businesses in the private sector by the number of employees (UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021).

UK Regions

The state of SMEs in Scotland and Wales was analyzed to see the impact of SMEs for two UK regions. SMEs account for about 99% of all private sector businesses in Scotland, providing more than 50% of employment in the private sector (Brown et al., 2020, p. 657). In Wales, SMEs also account for about 99% of businesses; however, 94.9% of those have less than ten employees (Henderson, 2020, p. 5). In 2020, there were 370000 SMEs in Scotland and 209000 in Wales (Ward, 2021, p. 7). Both Scotland and Wales were one of the first regions of the UK to respond to the impact of Brexit assisting SMEs (Brown et al., 2020, p. 657). However, average turnover by businesses in comparison between 2019 and 2020 increased by more than 8% in Wales, whereas Scotland saw an almost 3% decline (UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021, para. 6). The comparison shows that SMEs have a crucial impact on the economies of the two regions taking a significant part of private businesses, with Wales being more successful in operating SMEs in the recent year.

UK Industries

The state of retail and construction industries was analyzed to see the impact of SMEs on the UK. Retail is one of the industries in the UK that had the biggest increase in 2020 (UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021, para. 7). However, the construction industry is considered one of those most negatively affected by COVID-19 in 2020 (Albonico, Mladenov, and Sharma, 2020, p. 2). Table 2 presents more information on businesses in both industries (Ward, 2021, p. 8). With the two industries impacted differently by the end of 2020, the overall impact of their SMEs is also different.

Table 2 Businesses in construction and retail industries. (Modified from source: Ward, 2021, p. 8)

Industry Number of businesses

(000s)

Number of businesses

(%)

Employment

(%)

Turnover

(%)

Construction 992 17% 8% 8%
Retail 553 9% 18% 35%

The retail industry plays a significant role in the economy of the UK. In 2020, businesses in the retail industry accounted for 18% of employment and 35% of turnover (Ward, 2021, p. 8). Overall, the retail industry accounts for a third of the UK turnover and 9% of all businesses (Ward, 2021, p. 8). Moreover, in 2020 there was growth in online retail, which influenced small or single person courier companies (UK SME data, stats & charts, 2021, para. 8). The retail industry accounts for an essential part of turnover and employment in the UK and has the ability to influence other companies.

Although the events of 2020 had a negative influence on the development of the construction industry, its impact should not be underlooked. Businesses in the construction industry account for 17% of all businesses in the UK (Ward, 2021, p. 8). Typically, construction workers in the UK are self-employed, meaning they do not affect the number employed in the industry (Ward, 2021, p. 8). With that being said, construction accounts for less than 10% of employment and turnover in the UK (Ward, 2021, p. 8). The impact of the construction industry on the economy depends on specific features of the industry and is vulnerable to external factors.

EU Countries

The state of SMEs in Slovakia and Hungary was analyzed to see the role of SMEs in EU countries. A survey conducted in Slovakia shows that SMEs in the country consist of 64% of micro-enterprises, 24% of small enterprises, and 12% of medium enterprises (Hudáková and Masár, 2018, p. 148). Most SMEs in Slovakia operate in trade, construction, and catering industries (Hudáková and Masár, 2018, p. 148). Business owners in Slovakia identify risks for their SMEs as mostly coming from the market, financial, and economic factors (Hudáková and Masár, 2018, p. 148). Most SMEs in Slovakia are presented by businesses with up to 9 employees and operate in the trade industry with possible risks coming from the changes in the market.

In Hungary, there is also detected a significant spread of SMEs. SMEs in Hungary take over 99%, of which 94% are presented by micro-enterprises (Koloszár, 2018, p. 26). SMEs in Hungary provides about 70% of job placements and mostly and are mostly domestically owned businesses (Koloszár, 2018, p. 26). A Survey conducted in Hungary shows that business owners are most concerned about risks coming from the market, personal, and financial factors (Hudáková and Masár, 2018, p. 154). Like in Slovakia, most SMEs in Hungary are micro-enterprises influenced by the changes in the market.

Recommendations

Recommendations that may be helpful in operating SMEs should be based on mistakes done by business owners and employees. Significant mistakes in operating SMEs revolve around shortcomings of management and lack of information regarding business processes, such as setting financial goals only for the short term (Koloszár, 2018, p. 29). With SMEs taking the biggest part of business in the UK, business owners have to develop strategies on improving the competitiveness of their SMEs. Business owners have to be ready to operate under changing external factors. Identifying internal and external risks for the business and preparing strategies for risk management is also crucial (Hudáková and Masár, 2018, p. 156). For example, it may be helpful to research government policies regarding the support of SMEs. Recommendations regarding SMEs also depend on the industry in which the business operates. For example, for SMEs in the food industry, the training and competence of employees are crucial rather than the support of the management (Koloszár, 2018, p. 29). Business owners have to continuously research the industry and be prepared for changes caused by internal and external factors.

Conclusion

To summarize, the significance of SMEs to the economy of the UK is evident since most of the businesses in the country are presented by SMEs with less than 250 employees. SMEs account for a crucial part of private sector turnover and provide job placements influencing the development of different industries. However, SMEs, as well as the industries, can be vulnerable to political and economic factors, with some having more troubles than others. When businesses have difficulties operating due to external factors, it is important to be aware of supporting policies from the government and how to apply them. With the market changing and SMEs being highly spread across the country, it is important to constantly work on increasing competitiveness. SMEs have to Business owners have to develop long-term strategic plans considering external and internal changes and their possible outcomes to successfully operate SMEs and positively influence the economy.

Reference List

Albonico, M., Mladenov, Z. and Sharma, R. (2020) ‘How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the UK small and medium-size enterprises’, McKinsey Article.

Brown, R. et al. (2020) ‘Shocks, uncertainty and regional resilience: the case of Brexit and Scottish SMEs’, Local Economy, 35(7), pp. 655-675.

Gledson, B. J. and Phoenix, C. (2017) ‘Exploring organizational attributes affecting the innovativeness of UK SMEs’, Construction Innovation, 17(2), pp. 224–243.

Henderson, D. (2020) ‘Demand-side broadband policy in the context of digital transformation: an examination of SME digital advisory policies in Wales’, Telecommunications Policy, 44(9), pp. 1–13.

Hudáková, M., and Masár, M. (2018) ‘The assessment of key business risks for SMEs in Slovakia and their comparison with other EU countries’, Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 6(4), pp. 145–160.

Koloszár, L. (2018) ‘Opportunities of Lean thinking in improving the competitiveness of the Hungarian SME sector, Management and Production Engineering Review, 9(2), pp. 26–41.

Marshall, J., Jack, M. T. and Jones, N. (2021) ‘The end of the Brexit transition period’, Institute for Government.

SME Data Hub (2021).

UK SME data, stats & charts (2021).

Ward, M. (2021) ‘Business statistics’, House of Commons Library, 06152, pp. 1–20.

Data, Technology, Gender, And Society

Introduction

Generally, Anabel Quan-Haase’s text is sensitive to the shifting societal expectations and connected possibilities brought about by the convergence of society and technology. Quan-Haase animates the questions necessary to our continually developing connection with technology by combining historical approaches that are research-based and theoretical to examine the relationship of humans with technology. Quan-Haase’s approach urges different readers to look thoughtfully at their increasingly technological lifestyles. In the same context, Anna Lauren Hoffmann, in her text, brings up the impact of the concept of the “big data” revolution on gender within society. A summary of the two texts will be based on the impact of “big data,” for instance, “data violence” on trans and gender non-conforming individuals, and ways suggested by Quan-Haase that gender impacts technological implementation and innovation.

Main body

In chapter 8, Quan-Haase, (2021) expounds on why even though both sexuality and gender are considered spheres that are personal and private, they still, in a close manner, intersect with the world around us. The influence has necessitated the development of theoretical frameworks and innovative research methods that are comprehensive and have proved helpful in the investigation of how technology is gendered. Besides that, it is possible to determine how gender interacts with the design, development, and implementation of technology.

An excellent example of a theoretical framework discussed by Quan-Haase, (2021) is reductionism under household technology. The technology was promoted because it facilitated the concept of labor-saving and the work of homemakers; the two concepts pushed for the expectation of tidiness and cleanliness of homes by women. In the same chapter, it is also evident that women can build a community on a global scale and draw people’s attention to various subjects, such as sexual violence against women, with Hashtags such as the #Me Too movement. With all these concerns, does it mean that gender equality is likely to be attained by a more considerable margin with more advancement and development in technology?

On the other hand, according to Hoffmann (2017), “big data” exists through the proliferation of personal computing devices combined with widespread internet availability. This revolution of “big data”; has resulted in various negative influences on women, such as sexual harassment. To create an understanding of how gender and online sexism, big data, needs, and the health of transgender people are linked up, Hoffmann first confronts the mythology of big data by noting that quantitative insights and big data into the behavior of human beings are things that we make and remake but are not given.

The following subtopic explores significant strands of thought regarding the relationship between gender and technology, providing further insight into how stereotypes of gendered biases are integrated into scientific and technical development practice. An example of services denoted gender-biased was the apple health kit app, which was regarded as failing to account for some critical specific needs of women. Lastly, with the two explained concepts, Hoffmann (2017) has elaborated on how negatively they impact the minority group, the trans group. There is evidence of data violence across several social media platforms; for instance, these platforms only recognize two main genders,” the male and the female,” ignoring the transgender group. Besides, various individuals may modify and carry out surveys meant to oppress and discriminate against the minority group.

Conclusion

The two texts are different in that Quan-Haase, argues majorly on the impact of gender on technology, such as women creating various influential hashtags. In addition to that concept, Hoffmann disapproves of big data myths and then discusses the negative impact of technology-big data on various minority groups, such as the transgender group. The two texts have confirmed that despite the personal sphere and the invincibility of gender when it comes to technology, it still has got huge influence.

References

Hoffmann, A. L. (2017). Data, technology, and gender: Thinking about (and from) trans lives. In Spaces for the Future (pp. 3-13). Routledge.

Quan-Haase, A. (2021). Technology and society: Social networks, power, and inequality. Oxford University Press. (3 rd ed.).

Obesity From Sociological Perspectives

Introduction

The social problem under focus is obesity originating from Latino food norms. Much of the Latin cuisine has nostalgic value to Hispanic cultures. Consumption of traditional Latino food inspires the feeling of comfort to Latino people. Yet, at the same time, much of the food is saturated in fats, which causes obesity. As my family is directly affected by this problem, it is essential to apply sociological perspectives to the problem of obesity in my household.

Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic Interactionism describes society through the lenses of interactions. According to Cody-Rydzewski, Strayer, and Griffiths (2017), “humans interact with things based on meanings ascribed to those things”, while “the ascribed meaning of things comes from our interactions with others and society” (p. 18, 2nd paragraph). In my case, I have acquired the meaning of comfort food from my household, the members of which endorse Latino food as tasty and traditional.

It had not been a problem for me until I listened to a doctor’s opinion who blamed Latino food for causing obesity. Sydney Brown (2013) argues that “people change based on their interactions with object, events, ideas, other people, and they assign meaning to things in order to decide how to act” (0:40). When the doctor underscored the excessive amount of fat, I changed my opinion regarding Latino food. Unfortunately, it also created a rift with my household, which did not attach the same meaning to it as I did.

Conflict Theory

Although classic Marx’s view of competition for resources is not applicable to the conflict that arises between my family and me, one particular expansion of conflict theory – critical theory – can. Cody-Rydzewski, Strayer, and Griffiths (2017) write that critical theory “must explain what’s wrong in current social reality” (p. 17, 3rd paragraph). In relation to my family, the adherence to comfort food was a destructive factor.

The crux of the conflict was that my family did not want to change their food preferences. As khanacademymedicine (2013a) argues, “the existing generally accepted state of thesis of a society would cause the formation of a reaction or antithesis that opposed the accepted state” (1:40). When applied to my family, the thesis was that they were content with food and oblivious to health risks, while the antithesis was my desire to change food preferences and manage obesity.

Functionalism

Functionalism explains a predicament that my son found himself in. It was customary to meet with our friends, who were also Hispanic. Each time our families met, we would cook and eat Latino food. My son was always invited because there was a socializing opportunity for him. Unfortunately, the more he would visit his friends, the more obese he would become until it finally started to create physical inconvenience for him.

The aforementioned situation can be explained by the interjection of latent functions and dysfunctions. Manifest functions are specifically desired, while latent functions are unintended consequences of a social process (Cody-Rydzewski, Strayer, & Griffiths, 2017 p. 15, 4th paragraph; khanacademymedicine, 2013b, 2:38). My son’s socialization was a manifest function, but the habit of sharing Latino meals was a latent function. When the consumption became excessive, sharing meals with friends was now a dysfunction.

Conclusion

Altogether, it should be evident that the problem of obesity in my family is the direct result of adherence to social norms. According to the theory of symbolic interactionism, I started to attach the meaning of comfort to Latino food because the Hispanic culture values it. As an expansion of conflict theory, critical theory explains the emergence of conflict between me promoting healthy eating and my family. Finally, my son’s health issues were an unintended consequence of his time spent with friends. Overall, sociological perspectives give a clear picture of why obesity is a problem for the household.

References

Cody-Rydzewski, S., Strayer, E., & Griffiths, H. (2017). Introduction to Sociology 2e. 12th Media Services.

khanacademymedicine. (2013a). Conflict theory | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy [Video]. YouTube. Web.

khanacademymedicine. (2013b). Functionalism | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Sydney Brown. (2013). Symbolic Interactionism [Video]. YouTube. Web.

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