The importance of commercial awareness when advising small businesses

It’s very easy working in HR to drift through working life with insufficient commercial awareness. Lots of HR professionals have spent most of their ‘proper’ working life (i.e. not counting summer jobs or similar) cocooned away in HR departments providing business support, rather than in roles which are directly involved in whatever the organisation actually does.

While many HR professionals lack commercial awareness, I think most would agree that a good understanding of commercial priorities of the organisation they are working in enhances the contribution HR can make and the value which is placed on it.

Good HR professionals will try to address this by spending time building relationships and understanding the commercial activities and priorities of their employer, and the HR business partner model also encourages this to a greater extent than a more traditional set-up does.

But where a commercial awareness really comes into its own as an HR professional is when you’re working with small businesses. Although you are there to advise them on HR issues and practices, if you’re good at what you do, develop a good relationship with clients, and show that you have that good commercial understanding, you may find they will share with you and ask your opinion on wider business strategies.

So understanding commercial priorities and business activities becomes perhaps even more important when working with small businesses, but if you are advising small businesses as a business owner yourself, you have an extra advantage. Your working life is no longer just about HR. It’s also about accounting, marketing, websites, IT, business planning, branding, and all the other factors involved in running a business.

You have a good understanding of what your client is going through and has been through in growing their business because you are doing it yourself, and that deeper understanding can be invaluable in terms of the quality of the advice you give.

If you’d like to find out more about providing support to businesses as a franchise partner with face2faceHR, do get in touch.