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What can we learn from SMBs?

Asking for advice can help agencies avoid expensive mistakes

Christian Davepon
Christian Davepon
July 30, 2018

Small and medium size businesses are the backbone of every economy, and that’s why every government and city is anxious to help them succeed. However, government intentions don’t always translate to the most effective policies. If governments could easily ask SMBs what will help them, policy could be much more effective.

How can you talk with 30k businesses?

Here is the unbreakable barrier: how can you get quality inputs from 30k SMB owners? Surveys are limited in depth, town hall meetings are time consuming and interviews could catch only a few owners. Luckily, the “Start-Up Nation” has invented algorithms to solve this challenge. Insights is a social platform that can collect, analyze and respond to feedback, in real time, by using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Hundreds of answers - within hours

A few weeks ago, the Agency launched its Insights website and reached out to over 30,000 businesses. The question was “What are the main obstacles and difficulties faced by businesses like yourself, and how can we solve them?” 

Within only a few hours, hundreds of business owners started to give advice. Instead of the usual critiques, their inputs were actually constructive. It wasn’t a blame game about the past, but a positive brainstorming about the future.

What did they say?

With over 1,200 answers, the insights shed a new light on the focus needed in any future policy. Here are three of the insights:

  1. Right for a Safety Net. Independent contractors are not entitled to key benefits provided by the state. Unlike hired employees, they have no safety net. Their risks need to be mitigated.
  2. Asymmetric competition. SMBs are required to compete with well-established corporations in public procurement, and they struggle to do so. New provisions are needed to change the status quo.
  3. Payments on time. SMBs are fined for not paying their monthly tax bills, but they get paid after 2-3 months on average. They fund the government cash flow, instead of the other way around.

What now? 

Considering the scope of this process, it is essential to close feedback loops and update SMBs on their specific contribution to any future policy. Insights enables agencies to do so, with its personal impact updates. 

The key task is now to make the right decision and adopt policies that provide support to SMBs. The insights certainly changed the original plans of the Agency. Now the solutions can better address the real challenges that SMBs face.

What can you learn from small businesses? Christian Davepon
Christian co-founded Insights.US in Germany