Overstretched entrepreneurs say they can’t find time for innovation

The world’s small and medium business owners are struggling to innovate due to competing business priorities and a lack of appropriately skilled employees according to a new global survey by Sage (http://www.Sage.com).

Nearly a third (32%) of small business owners around the world has neglected the development of a new business idea. The problem stems from a lack of time, despite small business owners working over 40 hours a week (as shown in the Sage global research revealed last week (http://www.apo.af/MHGm5F).

Some 42% attribute their long hours to the unavailability of appropriately skilled employees. South African entrepreneurs are finding this particularly tough, with 57% saying that improved skills amongst the workforce would help release that necessary time.

The development of new ideas was ranked as the most common area of neglect, with customer contact, staff development and bill payment also on the priority list. In a small number of countries, including the UK and Germany, entrepreneurs have said they would rather spend time on innovation than on general office administration.

But innovation isn’t the only thing to suffer as a result of time-poor entrepreneurs. Over a third (38%) of those surveyed say that time pressures result in losing customers and clients. In South Africa, nearly half (49%) report losing customers, a client or a new business opportunity at least once because they were too stretched to service the business.                                                            

However, small business owners are open to solutions to help them devote more time to innovation. As well as improving skills amongst employees, better administrative processes and technology were highlighted (by 51% of respondents) as useful in releasing more time. Brazilians rank this much higher, with 69% saying this would help.

Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage comments: “Small businesses around the world are the true heroes of the global economy and we need to support them in helping them find the time to develop and grow. When so many businesses create a dream business from a great idea, it’s heart-breaking to see business owners forced to let that innovation fall by the wayside. We know how hard they work, and we want to help entrepreneurs carve out some time to keep their innovative spark alive.”

“Small business owners around the world say they often neglect developing new ideas and products because they have limited time to innovate. We see the same challenge throughout Africa, where there are many hardworking and creative entrepreneurs who just don’t have the time to explore and execute on their new ideas,” says Ivan Epstein, President of Sage International.

“And that is in spite of entrepreneurs sacrificing their evenings, weekends and holidays to keep their businesses running. Stifling businesses with administrative processes and red tape discourages them from thinking big and starves the Innovation Economy. It is, as such, encouraging to see many African governments striving to make it easier to do business in their countries.”

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