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Small and Medium-Sized Fashion Retail Enterprises


The current dissertation proposal offers to investigate several success factors for small and medium-sized enterprises in fashion retail business in the UK. These factors include the skills and qualifications of business managers and owners, the funding, the customer service strategies, and the ways to obtain funding for new businesses. A qualitative study with semi-structured interviews that are to be conducted with business managers and/or owners is proposed.

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In the modern world of business, companies are forced to engage in stiff competition in order to survive in the market. Therefore, it is important to investigate the success factors of businesses so as to permit new enterprises to successfully grow and develop. Also, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are crucial in UK’s economy (Ghobadian & Gallear, 1997), which means that understanding their situation is essential. Thus, the aim of the current dissertation proposal is to investigate in more detail a number of success factors SMEs in fashion retail which are important according to the literature.

The objectives of the proposed study include:

  • Determining whether management skills and/or qualifications of owners or managers of SMEs in fashion retail are important factors for business success;
  • Identifying whether the dearth of finances affects the growth of SMEs in fashion retail;
  • Finding out which strategies are used by SMEs in fashion retail to deliver best customer service;
  • Identifying the ways to obtain funding for new companies in the UK, and assessing the quality of these ways.

Literature Review

The impact of management skills and qualification on the business’ success. According to different studies, the competency of a SME’s owner or manager plays an important role in the success of a business. According to Islam, Khan, Obaidullah, and Alam (2011), characteristics such as education, managerial know-how, social skills and industry experience affect an SME’s success. Laguna, Wiechetek, and Talik (2012) discovered that specific managerial competencies work as a mediator between their general competencies and SME success. Raisiene (2014) also highlights the importance of specific managerial competencies. However, to better understand the mechanisms in which these competencies affect the success of SMEs, a qualitative research is needed.

The lack of finances and its effect on the growth of SMEs in fashion retail business. On the whole, the literature highlights the importance of finance for business growth, and states that its lack plays the role of a barrier to such growth (Brown & Lee, 2014). Also, Olawale and Garwe (2010) showed the dearth of funds to be the most important obstacle that hinders the success of organisations in South Africa. However, it is possible to further investigate whether the lack of finance also plays a critical role for SME in fashion retail in the UK.

The strategies for delivering best customer service. The significance of the quality of customer service should not be underestimated, for the latter allows for attracting new clients (at least via word-of-mouth) and preserving the loyalty of the current ones (Brady & Cronin, 2001), and for improving the sales (Appiah-Adu & Singh, 1998). It is possible to employ various strategies to deliver high-quality customer service (Verhoef et al., 2009); however, it is clear that some of these strategies will be better than others. Therefore, it is needed to investigate which strategies UK SMEs in fashion retail utilise to enhance customer experience so as to be able to propose improvements for these enterprises.

The ways to obtain funding for British SMEs in fashion retail. As has been previously noted, funding plays an important role in the development of an organisation (Brown & Lee, 2014; Olawale & Garwe, 2010). There exist several ways to gain finance for an enterprise in the UK, including bank loans and grants from private organisations (“Small Business Grants,” n.d.), as well as loans from governmental structures (“About Start Up Loans,” 2017). However, little information is available about where fashion retail SMEs in the UK actually obtain funding. Therefore, it would be beneficial to further investigate their sources of funding, as well as collect the opinions of businesses about the quality of the sources of finance that they used.

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The philosophical point of view of the social constructionism will be adopted for this study. According to this standpoint, the social reality is not simply given, but constructed by individuals and transferred by them (Lindgren & Packendorff, 2009). In practice, for this research it will mean that the experiences of people involved in fashion retail SMEs were created by these people and those they communicated with, and could be enhanced by improving the manners in which they act, which means that it is important to know the currently used methods and manners of action to be able to improve them.

The research design of the proposed study will be qualitative. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with participants; the latter will be asked to reflect on their past and current experiences pertaining to running their businesses. Therefore, it is probable that the study will be utilising a phenomenological approach. The data will be collected from selected owners and/or managers of fashion retail SMEs, and analysed by the researcher. Common themes will be found in the transcribed interviews, and further explored by the author of the dissertation.

Prior to interviewing the participants, the latter will be asked to read and sign a form so as to obtain their informed consent for participating in the study. In order to comply with ethical requirements, the anonymity of the respondents will be preserved; the researcher will not publish their names, the names of organisations where they work or which they own, or any personal information. Also, information which may be considered a business secret will not be revealed.

The limitations of the current study are related to the chosen type of design. While qualitative design allows for exploring the manner in which certain factors influence the success of a business, the findings will reflect the opinions of business owners or managers rather than precisely measured relationships between the considered factors and business success. Also, it is possible that the sample size will be rather limited due to the time constraints and the peculiarities of the chosen design.

Research Plan and Timescale

The researcher will start the study by conducting a thorough literature review to better find out what is known on the declared topics, which will allow for creating better questions for the semi-structured interviews. It might be expected that reviewing the literature and preparing the surveys may take up to 3 weeks.

Next, participants will be selected and interviewed; finding and interviewing them might be a difficult and time-consuming task, taking at least three months of time.

After that, the data will be transcribed and analysed. Analysis of qualitative data may take much time as well; an estimated two months may be needed.

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Finally, the dissertation will be composed and written, which may take another two months to complete.

Thus, on the whole, the work on the dissertation may take up to 8 months.


About start up loans. (2017). 

Appiah-Adu, K., & Singh, S. (1998). Market orientation and performance: An empirical study of British SMEs. Journal of Entrepreneurship, 7(1), 27-47.

Brady, M. K., & Cronin Jr, J. J. (2001). Customer orientation: Effects on customer service perceptions and outcome behaviors. Journal of Service Research, 3(3), 241-251. Web.

Brown, R., & Lee, N. (2014). Funding issues confronting high growth SMEs in the UK. 

Ghobadian, A., & Gallear, D. (1997). TQM and organization size. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 17(2), 121-163. Web.

Islam, M. A., Khan, M. A., Obaidullah, A. Z. M., & Alam, M. S. (2011). Effect of entrepreneur and firm characteristics on the business success of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh. International Journal of Business and Management, 6(3), 289-299. Web.

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Laguna, M., Wiechetek, M., & Talik, W. (2012). The competencies of managers and their business success. Central European Business Review, 1(3), 7-13.

Lindgren, M., & Packendorff, J. (2009). Social constructionism and entrepreneurship: Basic assumptions and consequences for theory and research. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 15(1), 25-47.

Olawale, F., & Garwe, D. (2010). Obstacles to the growth of new SMEs in South Africa: A principal component analysis approach. African Journal of Business Management, 4(5), 729-738. Web.

Raisiene, A. G. (2014). Leadership and managerial competences in a contemporary organization from the standpoint of business executives. Economics and Sociology, 7(3), 179-193. 

Small business grants. (n.d.). 

Verhoef, P. C., Lemon, K. N., Parasuraman, A., Roggeveen, A., Tsiros, M., & Schlesinger, L. A. (2009). Customer experience creation: Determinants, dynamics and management strategies. Journal of Retailing, 85(1), 31-41.

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