Shell Live Wire has taught us that start-ups’ most valuable resource is other SMEs.

On Monday the office got a call to tell us that we’d won one of the four June Shell Live Wire Awards; a £1000 grant and business mentoring. In the excitement, we got thinking about how we had got so far in sixteen months.

The winners were chosen by a combination of public vote and judges’ verdict, and our instinct is that public support got us through. We have built up a diverse network of supporters drawn from friends, families, candidates, and, most importantly, of other businesses who empathise with our struggle. One thing that is clear is that there is a real affiliation between us and the other SMEs we have befriended along the way.

In a community defined by size, as opposed to sector, SME’s can be friends. Although they are businesses who read the same trade magazines it’s unconstructive for them to consider each other ‘competitors’. The shortlist and winner’s line up of the June Awards exemplified the diversity in the category ‘SME’. Each business, from a children’s party company with a difference, to an importer of organic Argon oil, engages with their own niche target market, so they can co-exist in the same SME space.

The long-list nominated for Shell Live Wire represents valuable prospective partnerships for us, and not only to source our next batch of Argon oil! We can learn an incredible amount from the experience of similar sized business in today’s economic climate, and in return, we might be able to offer our own wisdom.

At Instant Impact we are experts on staffing needs, specialising in small businesses’ demand for remarkably fast learners to ensure any period of training isn’t made redundant when roles evolve. However, the potential of relationships between small businesses is much greater.

SMEs are often perfectly suited to satisfying the needs of other small companies and therefore can make great business partners for one another.

Maintaining a successful business model while still in your formative stage requires flexibility of brand, internal processes, and marketing strategy. A client with rapidly changing priorities requires a company with a quick and seamless decision-making process as well as a fast turnaround of execution, and another SME is a great fit.

Small businesses can offer priceless advice to companies of a similar size, as they experience many of the same unique issues on a daily basis, regardless of their target market. Fast growing businesses need to constantly re-invent themselves as they develop placing pressure on the flexibility of their brand, approach and team. Specifically strategies to negotiate such demands are time-sensitive, dependent on marketing trends or the job climate, to offer only two possible variables.

SMEs should be turning first to each other for highly relevant and current advice, before they approach big companies whose time as a start-up is only a distant memory.