The business world is evolving voraciously – SME owners can often get so wrapped up with the daily minutia of running their business, that they can forget that growing their SME could boil down to the simplest of things. In this article, we’ll dance with some simple business growth concepts and drivers that could help any SME to go on to have its best year yet.
- Know yourself, know your business. Clients want a clear indication of who you are and what you stand for. That’s what corporate branding is all about – but before investing a fortune branding your business, make sure you and your staff members know exactly what your business raison d’être is. Draw up clear and concise battle lines – do you distinguish yourself from the competition on the grounds of price? Customer service? Value? The clearer you understand your own unique selling point, the easier it becomes to brand your business accordingly.
- Grow with caution. Scaling an inherently profitable business can be a great thing. However, many unexpected problems and challenges can arise when scaling an SME – aggressive gearing can sometimes be justified, but what happens if you scale up and interest rates progressively trend up too…while demand trends down? Where possible, scale organically with the majority of financing arising from a cash rich balance sheet.
- Strengthen your relationship with stakeholders. There are many people who will have a direct or indirect interest in your business. Identify your major stakeholders and aim to build a stronger and more personable relationship with these groups. One positive many SMEs can have over the big corporates is the ability to personalize their service – use this to build better, stronger customer ties. Other ways of improving your relationship with your client base is to set-up a mailing list and keep in touch with them regularly. If you store customer details, sending a Christmas card or birthday greeting is hardly going to cost the moon – but it can be a nice touch to build favourable rapport. Your customers aren’t the only stakeholders you should be seeking to actively build better ties with – other groups you might want to give a dose of charm to could include your suppliers, financiers and employees.
- Identify bottlenecks. Every business no matter how big or small has constraints that prevent them from growing into a bigger, more successful corporate beast. Any SME owner needs to understand the fundamental factors preventing their business from reaching the next level. This could be one, or a mix of things. Sometimes, employees fail to keep up with the changing needs of a company and the environment within which it functions. At other times, factors such as inadequate working capital or a stagnant product/service that’s reached the end of its life cycle could be the root cause of the bottleneck. Find it, fix it.
- Be receptive. Rather than being the business equivalent of an ostrich with its head planted firmly in the sand, listen to your customers. Not all complaints will be justified, but a confluence of negative feedback from a myriad of clients should tell you that something isn’t quite right somewhere within the business. Customer feedback is invaluable when it comes to growing your SME.