There have been expert panels to date and some of the overriding themes to come out of the discussions has been that it’s not all doom and gloom out there and there are still plenty of opportunities to be had for entrepreneurs. In fact many see it as a time of growth, as recession drives innovation, according to regular SBC contributor, accountant Jamie O Hanlon.
Many business owners may feel that such comments are out of touch with
reality and difficult to consider however the key for SMEs is knowing where to invest in order to nurture innovation within their businesses. For example the use of technology, SMEs should aim to automate low value tasks/processes, support staff and share ideas.
Clear business goals
SMEs need to be clear on exactly what their business goals are before they begin aiming at them. Many SMEs initially slashed all investments in blind panic. While cutting costs may be paramount in the short term; they must also look beyond this to ways to increase revenue and encourage stability and growth in the longer term. Cooperation is key for small businesses in the current downturn; sharing ideas and interacting with the wider market is now more important than ever.
The internet and social networking sites have opened up such networking opportunities. The language of business is changing, businesses have to work harder and re-evaluate and adapt their business models to survive. The hope is that SMEs will come to recognise what they can do to help themselves in the current climate and in turn become the catalyst for revival for the wider economy.
Make the most of everything
The key to prospering during the economic downturn lies in making the most of everything you currently own. Investing wisely in areas that will maximise productivity is a part of this, but SMEs should not forget to look more closely within their business to see where they can use processes more effectively.
Some important areas that particularly came out of the many expert panels included the need for SMEs to add value to their customers, particularly as SMEs will never win in a price war against larger enterprises. It is critical to understand customers’ needs and adapt and innovate accordingly.
SMEs must take advantage of the fact that they can get closer to their customers and so understand them better. The economy has led to a shift in customer service methodology – where businesses must actually prove their value as opposed to just telling customers and prospects about it.
The right Networks, advice and support
To survive, businesses need to align themselves with the right networks, advice and support systems, but ultimately they must have the drive and ambition to succeed and the confidence to shout loudly about their business to be heard above the competition.
I would advise all small business owners to engage with their professional advisers to discuss medium term strategic plan and compile this plan and communicate the content of this plan to staff and stakeholders.
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