Lessons SMEs can learn from corporates and vice versa

Lessons SMEs can learn from corporates and vice versa

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What can big and small businesses learn from one another in the quest to create a diversified workforce that adds to their bottom line?

My career was in one of the largest banks in the world. I started working there when I was 16 and was put through rigorous training.

This training conditioned everyone to work to processes, we were audited constantly and then periodically the training was repeated to reinforce the behaviours.

During the time I worked there I really didn’t realise what this was doing to me personally, at the time I remember being conditioned to working there and even fearful of leaving as I felt my skills were so particular to that organisation I would not succeed if I tried to do anything else.

When I did get another job I began to realise the training was applicable elsewhere. Working in the public sector for a while I expected to see these same processes in place but was surprised to find there were none. I could apply some of these skills in this role.

Taking over a privately-owned SME was a different kettle of fish entirely, especially because it is in the manufacturing sector.

I have now experienced both sides of the coin over a significant period so feel I can objectively compare the two.

What are some of the things that small businesses can learn from corporates?


Following a procedure gives consistent service and quality. Small businesses typically have been built up by an entrepreneur, people who generally are not meticulous in that way, but more creative risk takers. Businesses can develop bad habits and spend more time fire-fighting than being efficient.


Small businesses underestimate the power of a good brand and carrying it through the business. Customers see you in a more professional light, it shows attention to detail.


An effective training regime not only upskills your staff but assists in re-enforcing positive organisational behaviours that ensure a well-run business, plus it makes new starters able to add value in a shorter space of time.

What corporates can learn from small business:


Too many processes and a lack of flexibility can cost businesses. What gives a smaller business its edge is an ability to bend rules. No one likes ‘computer says no’. Your people are not empowered to use their brains and ultimately you risk creating robots.

Value the people

People are your greatest asset. Make them feel valued as an individual, not a number, and your business will reap the benefits.


About the author

Katy Moss is the managing director of Trent Refractories – a UK based manufacturer and supplier of bespoke refractory solutions, supplying the UK market and beyond.


  • Karen Sykes

    Good article Katy. As an ex PI lawyer making the leap into a manufacturing SME I could totally relate to what you say about transferable skills etc

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