A former leading small business advisor to the Thatcher and Blair governments says disruption to the business consultancy sector means SMEs can now enjoy expert advice for the price of a small meal.
Duncan Collins, who was the principal advisor to the UK government for over 20 years said, “Artificial intelligence and algorithms are the way forward. Small businesses would previously rely on Business Link but since the closure in 2012 there has been nothing but cuts and firefighting (from government) when it comes to advising small companies – they have to fend for themselves.”
“A small business might be able to afford a consultant for a couple of days but in reality that route is very expensive. But machine learning and AI technology has flipped the game on its head and democratised business advice. We are now in a position to offer affordable expert advice to any size of business for as little as £5 a day – it really is a game changer.”
During Mr Collins’ tenure as small business advisor to the Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair governments, UK small business competitiveness climbed from 21st to 7th place in the international league tables. He is now the Founder and CEO of Runagood, the world’s first AI-driven business advisor software.
“Essentially I have taken my entire lifetimes worth of business experience, advising governments on small businesses, working across all sectors, and distilled it in this software. It leverages the power of big data and AI to create bespoke business advice – the more detail the business owner puts in, the more detailed the advice given on how to improve the business.”
Business owners begin by answering 20 key questions about their company. This information is then matched against industry data. This lets them know how proficient they are at acquiring new customers compared with other competitors in the same sector. Productivity, customer retention, efficiency and profitability are also assessed and compared.
Collins, who has dealt with thousands of companies throughout the UK says sometimes it’s good to take a leaf out of the ‘big business book’ rather than getting confused by self-employed ‘consultants’ or just ‘Googling it’.
“Businesses need a sustained relationship with business advisors who keep them informed about best practice. But the only way to make that affordable is by using AI, to accelerate the processes to such an extent that it becomes affordable to access smart advice all the time. It’s what big businesses do to stay big because they can afford the high costs (incurred by new tech). But AI levels the playing field for the first time ever enabling small businesses to compete.”