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What’s keeping business leaders up at night?

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Research by communications consultancy Stand reveals the larger a company gets, the more business leaders fear becoming out of touch with their customers, employees and the public’s perception of them.

In a survey exploring what keeps SME business leaders up at night, nearly two thirds (64%) said retaining talent and increasing performance was of top concern. This rises to 70% for medium-sized businesses, suggesting leaders feel more disconnected as their team gets bigger.

62% also worry about standing out from competitors. A concern that increases to three quarters (76%) in leaders of medium-sized businesses. This reflects the need for clear market positioning and differentiation in a crowded global marketplace, as businesses transition from start up to scale up and look to carve out a niche in their sector.

Over half of SME leaders (57%) said knowing enough about customers and their motivations, is also a concern, with this increasing to 69% among medium-sized businesses, underscoring a perception that c-suite feel removed from their customer base the bigger they get.

Stand commissioned the survey as part of their repositioning, which moves the company more into the business space. Laura Oliphant, Founder of Stand, said “We have always talked about solving business, not just comms challenges at Stand, and our sense was these were shifting. Retaining and empowering teams has always been an issue, but standing out from competitors and understanding and responding to customer motivations is moving up the agenda. Brands that are investing in proactive measures to maintain engagement as they grow, are the winners as it gets harder to stand out in crowded spaces.”

According to Stand, while growth is good news for businesses, it presents new challenges as the worries move from cashflow to culture. Implementing a robust culture strategy early on and continuously refining it as a company grows can minimise the risk of employee turnover and cultivate high performing teams, whilst regular market insight provides invaluable understanding of how to position a business in a crowded market.

“Good communications is built on insight, and helps businesses adapt and thrive in dynamic landscapes. As SMEs navigate the complexities of expansion, it remains a powerful tool to support change, foster organisational resilience and drive sustained growth.” added Oliphant.

With culture remaining a top concern, Stand has seen its work in this space grow too. Grace French, Director and Head of Culture at Stand, says: “No business leader fears growth. But our research shows that once momentum builds, growing pains take their toll on all areas of business – and culture is no exception. No one wants their brightest talent to leave just as their business starts to take off; that’s when they are needed the most.”

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