It may feel like international mega businesses are running the world but SMEs play a major role in holding the world’s economies together. So, how can the little guy survive amidst behemoths? Business blogger and columnist, JES MAGILL (webwriters.co.nz), shares some most useful advice.
These sure are interesting times for SMEs. On one hand, we have a leading economist, Cameron Bagrie, encouraging small business to step up and fill the void left by the dairy, petroleum and mining industries as their dominance wanes in the new world business order.
OECD estimates back this view too, stating recently that half of the growth in employment in the future is predicted to come from small and medium-sized businesses. So, no pressure then!
On the other hand, recent business confidence surveys released in New Zealand point to challenging times, with business confidence in Auckland especially taking a hit. Increased petrol prices, rising labour costs, the need for more housing and more infrastructure will certainly keep SMEs on their toes.
Eight tips to help ease business pain for SMEs
Thank goodness then, for Nicole Coyne’s 8 Tips For Future Proofing your Business. Director of Tikumu Business Consulting, Nicole helps business owners and operators build solid business foundations.
“If you’re serious about building a solid business, you probably need to overcome certain challenges and kick a few bad habits into touch,” says Nicole. Take a look at her pointers below, they may just make the difference:
1) Business Plan and Vision
I speak to many small business owners and unfortunately many of them don’t have a business plan. They tend to live in the here-and-now and operate in a lovely comfort zone, where they fail to think about the future of their business. Step outside of the comfort zone and start thinking about what you want your business to look like in 5 or 10 years time. Build your business vision and construct your plan to move in the right direction.
2) What’s your exit strategy?
Many small business owners give me a funny look when I ask them what their exit strategy is. Many of them answer, “I’m running my business, why would I want to exit it?” Well, it’s not about exiting straight away; it’s about future planning. If you had to put yourself into the position of looking to buy an existing business, what would catch your eye and make you put in an offer for your own business? So the point of an exit strategy is two-fold. Building a reputable business that is well structured with a solid foundation, which will be worth selling one day.
3) Listen to the customer
Such a simple thing, but yet can be completely missed, especially for larger businesses who somehow move further away from their customers the larger they grow. Here again, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to really listen to their customers and can be quick off the mark to react and adapt to feedback. What is your customer engagement plan?
4) Financial literacy
Know your numbers. Yes, you may have an accountant to guide you, but make sure you are aware of what is going on in your business from a financial point of view. Schedule regular reviews and be aware of what your expenses are, where the money is going and ensuring that you are sticking to your budgets. A false move or bad decision can really hurt your business.
5) Understand your strengths, but also your weaknesses
We live in a country with a good old “I can do it” attitude. This is a brilliant mindset to have, especially in a small business, where you are the chief cook and bottle washer, as well as the CEO. However it can also be your downfall. There will be tasks that you quite frankly will be rubbish at, or just not like. Figure out a way of delegating it, automating it or mastering it. Think about the wasted time and energy if you do not.
6) Learn to work on your business, not just in your business
This is a huge adjustment for many small business owners. Most small businesses are established on the back of the owner’s specific skills. Servicing the customers directly and working on the tools is what they do best. In order to grow the business, this mindset needs to change. As a business owner your position will change into a management and leadership role and you will find yourself not working on the tools as often as before. How will you shift into your new role without leaving a gap in your previous position?
7) Learn to sell your business and yourself
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a small business owner say “No, I’m not a sales person” I would be a billionaire. Reality-check, as a business owner you are constantly on stage representing your business and brand. Learn to get comfortable with this and if required, equip yourself with selling skills. Whether you love it or hate it, you are selling your businesses every time you talk to someone, so make sure you do it right!
The concept of work-life balance is tricky for many business owners. However, it does need to be said that if you don’t find a good balance between work and rest then guaranteed you will be paying for your lack of balance in some shape or form. Start early and get into the habit of building this balance into your daily and weekly routine.
It’s always worth taking time out to focus on where you’re heading with your business. If one aspect of your operation in the too-hard basket involves how you communicate with your customers and promote your business online – your website content – it’s time to dust off the file and make some changes. And it’s easier than you think. Contact us on www.webwriters.co.nz or call 027 537 4017 and we’ll do the rest. Affordable rates are the icing on the cake.