As an SME, you may think your business
is worlds apart from a large corporate.
However, SME’s can learn from large
organisations, and thinking (and acting)
big can go a long way towards helping
your business survive and thrive in a
competitive marketplace.
Don’t be afraid to ask for professional
help
Here are five key insights into what small
business leaders can learn from large
corporates to grow their brand:
(1) Work on your business as much as
you do in your business
If you manage your own business, it’s
very easy to get bogged down in the day
to day running and operation, and forget
the bigger picture. SMEs often spend time
managing – or sometimes firefighting –
their business, and the longer term vision
and strategy is neglected, or at worst, has
never been set.
It’s important to be clear on your long-
term vision, i.e. where you want to be in
five years’ time, and how you plan to get
there. A lack of long-term vision is akin to
driving without a destination – you’re just
wandering aimlessly avoiding pot-holes.
Set time aside to check that your business
is heading in the right direction. And if it
isn’t, take action to steer your business
back on track. Great leaders in the
corporate world make sure they spend
time out of the business to understand
how to develop and drive things forward.
(2) Have a business plan, and refer to it!
Most SME’s start out with a business
plan, but often it can be a paper exercise
that is written up once and never looked
at afterwards. Whether you put together a
plan to secure funding or a loan, it’s vital
that your business plan is a living and
breathing document that helps you
develop your business.
A business plan details the shorter term
actions to achieve the longer term
strategy, therefore it should be done on a
yearly basis, and ideally checked in with
monthly.
It’s tempting to see this as a frivolous
admin exercise, particularly when you’re
being pulled in other directions, or when
things are going well and you’re busy.
However, a business plan should act as a
blueprint to guide you in the good times,
as well as the bad.
(3) It’s not all about the revenue
Numbers have their place, but they’re not
the be-all and end-all of any business.
It’s tempting during the good times of
healthy revenue to assume that things will
continue this way. However, it’s important
to observe where the business is coming
from, and base your ongoing strategy
and tactics on this.
For example, is your business seasonal,
or largely governed by national events? If
so, what is your plan to address an off-
season slump in sales? Big corporates
don’t just ride the wave of high revenues,
they plan ahead for future shortfalls and
continue to work on developing the
business.
Equally, some SME’s fall into the trap of
being busy just being busy, and don’t
check that their numbers are on track for
what they predicted. So in short, look at
the numbers, but remember that they
don’t tell the whole story.
(4) Don’t neglect the business
development
In times of plenty, businesses forget about
the pipeline, but it’s imperative that you
keep doing whatever is bringing in the
business.Whether it’s networking, PR, or
marketing, don’t stop your new business
activity just because business is booming.
For SMEs, it can be feast or famine, so
don’t let your pipeline dry up.
Also, take time to look at the market
beyond your business. Who are your
competitors? What are the risks your
business faces? These aren’t just
questions you ask when setting up your
business, they’re key to your business
development (and protection) and should
be revisited regularly.
(5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
They say it’s lonely at the top, and this is
especially the case for SME leaders who
don’t have the luxury of a board to
bounce ideas around. Even if you have
partners, you’re all so close to the
business it’s often difficult to think outside
the box. So it’s important to look beyond
the business for support.
Whether it’s professional coaching, a
business mentor or a networking group,
take the time to seek advice from outside
your business to help you take your
business to the next level. After all, it’s
not for nothing that some of the biggest
corporates have engaged the services of
mentors and coaches. You and your
business deserve the chance to develop
into a great success, so think big in order
to give it the best chance.

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