I took a trip to my local bookshop today to see what books there were for someone who had set up a business, but who wanted to take it to the next step. After all, I thought, there are thousands of businesses out there – shops, accountants, cleaning firms, recruitment consultants, restaurants, component manufacturers, gyms, printing firms, and so on – there’s bound to be quite a few books advising them on how to grow.
So, I made my way to the business section. It’s a good shop, so it has a good range of business books. In fact the business section is tucked away in a pleasant corner of the shop with it’s own chair, where I spend a lot of time sitting and reading, pretending to be working.
Today though I was working. I had a purpose. I was conducting some scientific research. I scanned through the rows of books offering friendly light-weight advice for start-ups, the dry–looking tomes on book-keeping, and the airport books promising to help you to the top of the corporate ladder.
But I couldn’t find anything on how to grow your business.
There were all sorts of books giving advice on marketing, IT, procurement, legal issues, tax matters and other areas that would certainly interest an entrepreneur, but they were all either dull textbooks full of graphs and acronyms, or they were aimed at the corporate market.
Now surely this means that the UK’s entrepreneur is missing out? Without doubt we all need help when we’re starting out, and so it’s a great thing that there’s such a range of books packed with advice on how to get through that difficult first year. But what about after that?
According to the latest figures from the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform there are nearly 1.2 million companies in the UK with between one and 49 employees. That is over 99% of the total number of companies.
The overwhelming majority of companies in the UK are neither start-ups, nor corporates. They are established small businesses.
Now, not all of them want to grow. There are plenty who are quite happy trundling along as they always have done. However, what about the ones that do want to grow? Where are the books giving them advice?
Sure there are some out there. There are some very good ones. But there’s nothing like the number of books there are offering advice to start-ups or to corporates. Maybe it’s time for that to change.
Maybe it’s time for my local bookshop to set aside an even bigger section for its business books.