The SME start-up processes

Assessment brief including criteria mapped to learning outcomes

There is one assessment for this module. The assignment consists of a formative (draft) and a summative (final) element. The formative task is there to help you complete the summative assessment task successfully. The formative process is important because it will help you address the task more fully and therefore contributes to your learning and understanding of the challenges facing SMEs and help you develop your business development & planning skills in relation to SMEs.

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You will be required to undertake a detailed evaluation of an existing SME in the UK and then design and growth/development strategy for the business. You will present your findings in a report and make clear and costed recommendations. Word Count 2000

References not part of word count.

Students will need to research a small, or medium sized business in the UK. You should try to determine the following during the research:

  • The nature of the entrepreneur behind the venture.
  • The SME start-up processes.
  • The business concept and any sources of competitive advantage
  • The current level of demand and the competitive environment
  • The growth and development of the business to date
  • The challenges of managing and running the business
  • The SMEs current growth and development strategy
  • Any government support measures that may be available to help the business overcome the challenges faced.


You should make use of all available sources and current thinking on SMEs should be central to your analysis and illustrated with reference to current articles from relevant journals and from broadsheet newspapers (e.g. FT). Use should be made of the library’s electronic databases such as Summon, Emerald, etc. You should apply theoretical concepts and models relating to the entrepreneurial process and to the various stages of growth and development of the business. Once you have done your research you will need to write your report in which you will present your findings and your recommendations for the future growth and development for the business. You are advised to adopt the following structure for the report:

Title page: Include module title, the names of the SME discussed, student ID number and the total word count (excluding bibliography)

  • Contents page
  • Introduction: this should include some background on the SME and entrepreneur(s). You may wish to include details such as the type of business, size, how long it has been trading, etc. Students should also give a brief account here of the research process (focusing primarily on the secondary data collection). The aims and objectives of the report, or the terms of reference should be clearly spelled out and should obviously relate to the assessment brief above; with 8 components.
  • Findings: here the results of the research need to be presented. This section should follow along the lines of the aims and objectives highlighted in the introduction. The purpose in this section is to set out the elements covered as part of the research set out above. This should include the nature of the entrepreneur, the start-up process, the business concept and competitive advantage, the current level of demand the competitive environment, the growth and development of the business to date, the challenges of managing and running the SME, and your assessment of current growth

and development strategy. Students should also highlight appropriate government support schemes that may be available to the business.

Students are also expected to consistently support their work with reference to appropriate sources and course materials (cited in accordance with the Harvard referencing convention).

  • Conclusions: this should follow logically on from the findings and provide a concise summary of them. No new information should be presented here.
  • Recommendations: here students should present their proposals for the future growth and development of their SMEs and these should be costed, compelling and persusive. Work should be supported with reference to appropriate sources.
  • References and Bibliography: you should be discerning about your sources of information and ensure that all references conform to the Harvard convention. Minimum of 12 references and above

Assessment criteria

Introduction: Provides appropriate background information about the business, identifies some of the key challenges currently being faced and develops clearly defined terms of reference for the report 15% LO1

Findings: Detailed presentation of findings which are clearly aligned with the terms of reference set out in the introduction. There is a clear understanding shown of the current challenges facing the business. A comprehensive analysis of the current external environment and how this relates to the business covering all the areas of the brief. Appropriate government support measures are identified. 35% LO2, LO3, LO4

Conclusions: A concise summary of the main findings and a detailed evaluation of the implication for the business. There is a clear sense that the report has achieved the terms of reference as set out in the introduction. 10% LO3 Demonstrates a clear understanding of the issues faced by the business and of government support measures which are available. No new information is presented here.

Recommendations: Realistic and sensible recommendations are made stemming logically from the conclusions. The availability of government support is highlighted where appropriate as are other sources of finance. Recommendations should be costed, compelling and persuasive. 20% LO5, LO6

Structure and Clarity: Adheres to a recognised report format and remains within the specified word count Spelling and grammar is accurate Citations and references adhere to the Harvard convention Integration of theory and practice consistently throughout the report Work is logically structured and coherent throughout 10% LO1-LO6

 Reflective Journal: The Student has made regular (weekly) entries in their reflective journal for most of the semester of circa 200+ words per entry. These entries cover the majority of course content (not in detail, key points will suffice) and specifically address the question ‘what have I learnt this week?’ 10 Marks will be awarded for 10 entries, over the first 10 weeks of the semester, which cover the appropriate content and are roughly 200+ words in length. 10% LO1-LO6

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