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Rural entrepreneurship in Wales
Rural entrepreneurship in Wales

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4.3.2 Job analysis

Task 25: Job analysis

  1. Review the information above with a view to your own job, if you are planning to be a sole trader, or for a key member of your staff.
  2. Identify any gaps in skill or knowledge that need to be filled.

    For example, Euan needs to learn more about brewing, and David is considering learning 3D design software skills.

  3. Start to identify how/where these gaps can be filled.

    Euan has found a brewery that runs classes, and David is going to try his local college.

In firms based on physical production and distribution, it is often easier to identify key resources (people, equipment, premises and so on). However, most services have a physical aspect to them too, and many have a basic production process (processing of orders, client’s specifications; allocating staff to client’s jobs, appointments; producing reports, invoices and so on).

If you are at a more advanced stage where you are beginning to plan, bear in mind that an increasing number of small firms are doing away with support employees, turning instead to more creative uses of technology internally or making more use of outsourcing.

For example, one successful small firm comprising an architect and a surveyor used to employ three support staff. They now employ none and believe that they work more effectively for it. Good employees were hard to find and retain, so they invested heavily in ICT. Letters and reports are dictated using voice-recognition software, design drawings are done using a computer-aided design (CAD) package and jobs are costed and controlled through a complex spreadsheet and database suite that they set up themselves. They now feel far more in control, with everything at their fingertips.

Outsourcing might be as simple as relying on a particular courier firm to collect and deliver goods. However, not all industries offer the same scope for outsourcing or using ICT in precisely this way (and not all localities have the same access to outsourced services or ICT services such as broadband, after-sales service, help lines and so on). You need to take into account the presence or absence of such services and your own capabilities for making effective use of them.

Even if you feel your idea does not lend itself to support from clusters and networking, there is clearly a trend towards these more collaborative forms of work, particularly in innovation, and therefore it needs to be reflected in most STEEP analyses. You should seriously consider outsourcing as a source of capabilities not just during the launch phase of your business cycle, but longer term through the growth phase.

Outsourcing firms often possess specialist knowledge and provide services to clients on a local or global basis. They are able to employ economies of scale and use of new technologies that as a result, will keep prices low without affecting quality. In other words, if you identify skills or gaps within your business you might be prudent to look outside the business for those skills rather than develop them in-house.