Owner-managers seek counselling that is trustworthy, understandable and competent

As part of the SNOwMan project, higher educational institutions in Finland, Poland, Lithuania and Denmark have conducted interviews with approximately 80 owner-managers of SMEs to map their biggest challenges and get their perspective on what makes good counselling. 

Despite national and cultural differences between the owner-managers, most of them ranked the same challenges equally difficult. The challenges that the interviewed owner-managers found most difficult was recruitment of new workforce, finding customers and competition. 

Owner-managers are concerned with the needs of customers

The interviews also showed that the owner-managers of SMEs do not focus on non-technological innovation, but rather focus on the development of the company based on the needs of customers and suggestions of their suppliers.

As the companies are owned and managed by the same person, another challenge that emerged was that of being a bottleneck. As the owner-manager makes all the decisions, it can be difficult to delegate it to other employees. At the same time, the owner-managers also saw this as a strength because of their big engagement and ability to make decisions fast.

Business intermediaries must have specialized knowledge

Another focus in the interviews were the characteristics of good counselling. On this topic, the owner-managers across the Baltic Sea Region agreed on what they thought was good counselling. Competencies such as specialized and specific knowledge within the field of the company were highly valued. They also found it important that business intermediaries’ are able to communicate at their level, and that they have in-depth knowledge about the company and its situation before visiting. 

Next step will be to analyze the responses and use them in the further development of a new counselling toolbox.