A year on from launch, the owner of a business support franchise in Cardiff, says that demand for such services supplied by the private sector is sky-rocketing as state-funded support in Wales wanes and the uncertainty created by the UK vote to leave the European Union presents businesses with many new challenges.
Graham Morgan, the former director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and senior director at RBS before that, bought the Cardiff franchise of Business Doctors, a national support network designed to help SMEs develop and grow, in March 2016.
A year into his new career, Morgan says cut-backs in the funding available for business support has forced more businesses to look at experts operating in the private sector – and business is booming for Business Doctors as a result.
“If you are a business owner there are actually very few places you can go to get independent advice,” Morgan says. “But the amount of things you need to know now have increased exponentially. To run a business, you have to have a rough idea of a lot of areas. Being able to have a chat to someone who has a pretty good understanding of all these areas can be a game changer.
“And all that was true even before the Brexit vote as business owners need to navigate great uncertainties, volatile FX markets, new legislation and new dynamics in trading relationships.”
Morgan points out that government statistics show that the number of Welsh exports into Europe had plunged from 67% to 38% over the last decade, even before the seismic Brexit vote.
Some of the early clients of Business Doctors Cardiff included a real estate company, restaurant chain and a specialist cleaning company. He says he is enjoying putting 30 years of experience of helping with small businesses to direct use.
“After I left the Chamber last spring, I realised I got most enjoyment from helping business owners and senior managers get through the treacle of running a business,” says Morgan.
“There was an element of giving something back. I had gained significant knowledge and expertise in commercial banking, and during my time at the Chamber of Commerce, and I felt ready to share that with business owners who were still making their way through the modern-day business jungle.
“Independent advice has become increasingly important as legislation and customer touch points have proliferated,” said Morgan.
“Most business owners know that they would like to do more, but due to busy schedules things get put it on the back burner,” says Morgan.
“If I sit down with a company I can understand what’s on their mind, and come up with either a solution or contacts along the M4 corridor who can fix their current issue.
“In my time as a bank advisor there’s no type of business I haven’t had contact with. It really helps that I can speak their language; I’m equally able to walk onto a building site with a hard hat or sit in an office.”