iwoca, the UK’s fastest growing small business lender, today surprised commuters at Manchester Piccadilly station with a flash mob-style juggling performance to illustrate the daily hassles facing the owners of Britain’s 5.6 million small businesses, especially at a time of great uncertainty caused in part by a directionless Brexit.
Appearing amongst a surprised crowd in Manchester Piccadilly station, a performer juggled an ever-increasing number of balls thrown at him from all directions, in a visual metaphor of the daily hassles and chores managed by small business owners. iwoca was inspired to create the spectacle off the back of a recent YouGov survey of over 1,000 small business decision-makers commissioned by the fintech lender, which found that nearly three in five (57% identified juggling as the circus act that best describes their personal experience of running a small business.
Commenting on the YouGov research, Nigel Nicholson, emeritus professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School, said: "Small businesses are filled with too few people doing too many jobs. In a small business, the owner usually has to do everything all at the same time – it's no wonder they affiliate with the juggler in the circus act."
The study found that affinity with the juggling analogy was strongest in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, where 63% in each region compared themselves to jugglers. The study also revealed that bookkeeping was the task most small businesses considered the biggest hassle, chosen by over a quarter (27%) of all decision-makers. Meanwhile, 42 percent of respondents believe central government adds to the hassle for small businesses. This was most pronounced in the manufacturing sector (51%).
In an interview following the study, Dr Gorkan Ahmetoglu, lecturer of business psychology at University College London, added: “The majority of business owners embrace the juggling of jobs because they have to, not because they actually like doing it as part of their work. Only a few of the most entrepreneurial-minded will enjoy multitasking for multitasking’s sake.”
Christoph Rieche, CEO of iwoca, said: “I can absolutely resonate with this feeling; there are so many balls we as business owners need to keep in the air. If you drop one you risk that all of them come crashing down, it’s really stressful but also a lot of fun at the same time.”
Mr. Rieche continued: “Access to credit to manage cash-flow gaps or to seize growth opportunities is just one of these balls and it’s iwoca’s mission to make it an easy one to keep in the air.”
iwoca’s mission is to expand access to finance for UK SMEs, in particular the 5.5 million micro-businesses employing less than 10 people, by eliminating time-consuming applications and overly-rigid lending criteria. In March, the lender – ranked as the UK’s fastest growing SME finance provider by the Deloitte UK Fast 50 and Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 – pledged to provide £100m in finance to the Northern Powerhouse by 2020. To date, the company has reached nearly a fifth of that goal, with almost £20m in funding being provided to the region.
Last month iwoca became the first ever business lender to connect with any of the UK’s nine largest banks under the Open Banking initiative, launched in January 2018. A beauty salon in Kent is considered to be the first ever business to secure a loan using Open Banking when it received approval from iwoca for £10,000 on Monday 5th November 2018. The loan went from application to approval in one hour and 23 minutes.