The Loneliness of the SME Leader

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Launching, growing and leading a business comes with a unique set of challenges. If youre the leader of a small business, and youre at a point where youre starting to scale up and employ more people, these challenges become very real. SALINEs Commercial Director Tony Camacho speaks from extensive personal experience of leading and supporting SMEs, and provides practical insights for managing this exciting, demanding stage of business development.

It’s lonely at the top. 

Running a small business is very often a juggling act to manage your business, your family and yourself. Often the lines become blurred.

You may also be trying to do too much for your organisation. It’s likely that you are already effectively covering a number of major roles: raising investment and managing the finances, as well as being the architect and operational lead for your business’s product or service.

This is particularly challenging when your management team is you, or you and your partner. Working in a bubble, it’s easy to lose your sense of perspective, leaving yourself insufficient time to steer your business’s course between your goals and day-to-day operational issues.

Overload and overwhelm

If you’re additionally trying to be business development, sales, marketing HR, Finance, IT, and all the roles in between, your business may be starting to feel like something you didn’t sign up for.

As a small business leader, you also carry the weight of responsibility for other people’s livelihoods, as well as your own.

Without support, feelings of overwhelm can escalate quickly. In my experience, business leaders can develop a real blind spot identifying where and when help is needed. Added to this, concerns about what it will cost and feeling inadequate because you’re unable to stay on top of it all, lead people to shy away from seeking the right advice and support.

This is a burden many business people assume, but rarely vocalise.

Regain your focus

“What is your job description?” This is one of the first things I ask any business leader we’re working with. Since you can’t do it all, it’s important to identify the things that started you on this journey in the first place and that you do really well. After all, it’s your business, so the job needs to be as close to your ideal job as it can be. Often you are the point of difference that makes your product or service tick, so you need to focus on your core skills.

After we’ve established your focus, we then identify what else needs covering. Naturally, there will be circumstances unique to your organisation that require a bespoke approach, but the underlying process is the same: accept that you can’t do it all, own what you’re good at, then find solutions for all the rest. We help you work through your options to find and set up the right network of support and work with you every step of the way to put things in place.

You’re not alone

Very few people have all the skills required to make a business enduring and successful and, even then, circumstances outside your control can set you off your course – so don’t beat yourself up about it.

It’s important to remember that there’s always a solution, and sometimes taking a few supported steps back can help you get things working better and moving forward more efficiently.

At SALINE, we partner with our clients to grow their turnover, improve performance and  increase profitability. And while we can’t always immediately create longed-for stability and predictability, we work on building a tailored pathway that will help get you through the tricky moments, helping you grow with greater confidence.


Tony Camacho
Commercial Director at SALINE

Tony brings a wealth of experience to the SALINE team, having held senior roles and led projects in a range of industries and markets. In his previous role at ACG Ventures, his finance and investing background enabled him to support multiple startups and SMEs on their journey to attracting investment and scaling up. Earlier in his career, Tony spent 18 years working in the airline business for prominent companies such as Air France and KLM, where he helped to launch new challenger airlines, most notably Buzz Air, which was sold to Ryanair in 2003.

Tony has a strong reputation for practical problem solving and driving business strategy. From troubleshooting cash flow issues and devising pricing structures to creating marketing and sales strategies, his experience and insight make him well placed to provide hands-on help and guidance to large or small businesses, whatever their sector or stage of growth.

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