How to survive as an SME

The oil and gas industry was under intense pressure long before COVID-19 came along – critics have been lining up for years to condemn the big companies for their dirty practices. However, the outbreak has helped to raise the environmental debate to a higher level, and to good effect. Many of the giants, including BP, have scrambled to develop strategies that involve a phased withdrawal from fossil fuels and huge investments in renewable energy R & D. Our own Government has also set itself an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions. There’s no turning back now.

Some might say it’s a pity it took a nasty disease and a sharp drop in the price of oil to force the pace, but does that really matter? The important thing is that the appetite for change is increasing and that science and technology have been propelled to top of the agenda. Great news for mankind, then. But what if you are a small business being swept along by this unstoppable tidal wave of change? How are you supposed to survive when even the industry’s representative body, O&G UK, is predicting there could be 30,000 job losses in the industry?

There is no simple answer. But smaller companies have one great advantage – their size enables them to learn, adapt and change course quickly.

One inexpensive source of know-how can be found in public research universities like Brunel, which originally started out as The Brunel College of Advanced Technology. A recent academic paper explained how the university can help establish contact with Government agencies, Chambers of Commerce, financial institutions and other SMEs, thus allowing them to share innovation and collaborate for mutual benefit.

Elsewhere, Scotland’s Business Gateway urges SMEs to “embrace behavioral change”, diversify and to target and enter new markets. The team there can assist with identifying opportunities and useful market intelligence. They can even advise people who have been made redundant how to start up their own business.

The technology exists to support companies of all sizes. For example, basic marketing and sales techniques, especially via social media, have taken a huge step forward due to so many people being forced to work from home. 

Companies of all sizes can benefit if they only reach out – we know this to be true at UnitBirwelco through own collaboration with three universities. You have nothing to lose, so give it a try.