Report urges start-ups to tackle poor management skills to survive past year three

Nationwide campaign launched to curb 44% failure rate of UK start-ups and boost growth of SMEs

Embargoed 00:01am, 15 September 2015

Start-ups in the UK must improve management skills to increase their chances of survival, according to the recommendations of an industry report being published today [15 September].

New analysis of UK-wide data on SMEs* reveals that nearly half (44%) of businesses founded in the UK in 2011 had failed by 2014, with incompetence and bad management to blame for 56% of these business failures. The lack of professional management skills is also holding back UK productivity and employment growth, with only 16% of all new SMEs found to be fast-growing.

The issue of poor management is no surprise given that just two in five (42%) of small businesses were found to have provided management training in the previous 12 months, compared to 89% of businesses with 250+ staff. The position is even worse for businesses with fewer than 24 staff where only one in three (36%) receive any management training.

The Growing Your Small Business report, which provides new analysis of the Office of National Statistics’ Business Structure Database and the UKCES Employer Skills Survey, has been jointly produced by the Chartered Management Institute, Chartered Association of Business Schools, The Supper Club and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.  Alongside the data, the report reveals a complex picture of business support practices across the UK with more than 600 initiatives available to small businesses.

The launch of the report at the House of Commons marks the start of a campaign to help SMEs access the management support provided by business schools and provide much better sign-posting to management best practice and professional support. 

The report reflects the outcomes of a nationwide roadshow hosted by business schools, CMI and partners involving 1,200 managers sharing their growth stories and how business schools can play a key role in developing the management and leadership capability of owner managers, recruiting and development new managers, and supporting both their survival and growth.

A new ‘heatmap’ developed for the campaign provides employers with key information on the qualifications, networks, placements, business support and professional management qualifications being provided by local business schools.

Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, commented:

“Small businesses are a vital part of our economy, yet as our report shows their growth is being held back by poor management and leadership. CMI has an important part to play in changing that and improving the productivity of small business. Our online heatmap gives managers a simple tool to find the business schools and publicly-funded support programmes available to help them.

“The heatmap also shows the business schools involved in the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, which will give small businesses the chance to train graduates on a scale that hasn’t been possible before. Small employers will benefit from specific support measures, including financial subsidy, making it easier for them to develop the managers and leaders they need.”

Anne Kiem, chief executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, said:

“The UK’s business schools are full of world-class business expertise and knowledge, and with a business school conveniently located in every region, including those who hold the Small Business Charter, they are perfectly placed to support the growth of small businesses. As this report has evidenced, those small businesses that have received support from a business school have received high quality advice and professional development to start, grow or reshape their business.”

Emma-Jane Packe, director of The Supper Club, said:

“We’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and SMEs and find that while the circumstances may differ, 95% of the challenges faced by business owners are common across all sectors. Having the skills, along with a capable team, to manage through these is imperative but sharing with a peer group can help you find solutions faster and be an invaluable resource in helping you scale your business. We say to all SME business owners, we know it can be lonely being an entrepreneur, but the support is out there to help you achieve growth.”

To use the heatmap and find out more information on the Growing Your Small Business Campaign visit and via #GrowingSMEs

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For further information contact:

CMI - Rhianna Thompson – or 020 7010 0837

Chartered Association of Business Schools – Barney Roe, Director of Marketing and External Relations

Tel 07884 002785   email:


*About the data

The datasets used here are from the Business Structure Database (BSD) and the UKCES Employer Skills Survey. The BSD is produced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and is an annual snapshot of the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), which is a live register of data collected by HM Revenue and Customs via VAT and Pay as You Earn (PAYE) records.

Some of the UK statistical data used in this report is from the ONS and is Crown copyright and reproduced with the permission of the controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland. The use of the ONS statistical data in this work does not imply the endorsement of the ONS in relation to the interpretation or analysis of the statistical data.

The small business metrics were developed for the UK regions used in the heatmap by Professor Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and Deputy Director of Enterprise Research Centre School and Karen Bonner, Senior Research Fellow in the ERC.

About CMI

  • CMI – the Chartered Management Institute – is the only chartered professional body for management and leadership, dedicated to improving managers’ skills and growing the number of qualified managers.
  •  Our professional management qualifications span GCSE to PhD equivalent levels, including the unique Chartered Manager award which increases earnings potential and improves workplace performance.
  • We provide employers and individual managers with access to the latest management thinking and with practical online support which helps them embrace change, create high performing teams and keep ahead of the curve.
  • With a member community of 100,000 managers and leaders, we promote high standards of ethical practice through our Professional Code of Conduct, and help managers build their expertise through online networks, regional events and mentoring opportunities.
  • Visit for more information.

About Chartered ABS

The Chartered Association of Business Schools is the voice of the UK’s business and management education sector. We support our members to maintain world-class standards of teaching and research, and help shape policy and create opportunities through dialogue with business and government.

The UK’s business and management education sector represents 1 in 5 university students and contributes £3.25b to the UK economy. Its management students go on to lead global businesses and its entrepreneurs contribute to our dynamic economy. Its research has an impact across society and helps to turn our capacity for invention into viable businesses. Our 150 members include 122 business schools and higher education providers, as well as affiliate stakeholders, corporate members and international partners.

Further information is available at

About The Supper Club

The Supper Club is a membership club exclusively for fast-growth entrepreneurs. Our members join to learn from their peers in the pursuit of business growth. We think it all adds up to a relaxed and confidential environment for founders and CEOs which is all about growing your business in a constructive, collaborative way. The Supper Club is part of Prelude, whose mission is to make Britain the most enterprising nation in the world.

Further information is available at

About Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is an independent body, safeguarding the public interest in quality and standard of UK higher education. We check how UK universities and colleges maintain their academic standards and quality. We review and report on how they meet their responsibilities, identify good practice and make recommendations for improvement. We publish guidelines to help UK universities and colleges develop effective systems to ensure students have the best learning experience.

Further information is available at