It’s the dream of every small and medium business owner to create a company that grows steadily and goes on to do truly great things. In the everyday world of the here and now, however, it’s not always as simple as it sounds! Here we examine a few no-nonsense and meaningful ways you can grow your SME and get one step closer to that dream.
Use debt wisely, but don’t be overly afraid of it
Depending on your region and industry, there may be several development funding options out there you could be taking advantage of. These may take the form of governmental funds designed to help small businesses such as those offered by a Department of Trade and Industry, incubators, or of course – the bank. If you’ve been growing steadily but lack the capital to purchase the assets, intellectual property or equipment you need to take your business to the next level, investigate these options seriously. Used wisely, taking on debt now could help you to bigger and better things – but you always, always need to do your research thoroughly first.
Outsource your non-core functions
It’s difficult to remain focused on growth and expanding your offering when you’re wearing too many hats. As a rule of thumb, it’s far better to remain focused on what you do best and outsource the rest. Do your homework and vet the companies you partner with thoroughly but trust them to do what they do best. Good options for a typical SME to outsource include marketing, investing in IT Help Desk Support, accounting, payroll, HR, and any administrative functions that aren’t directly related to your bottom line.
Grow your own professional network
Some people love networking events, and some people loathe them. However you feel about them though, they are excellent opportunities to make connections that could be incredibly useful to you and your company. If you are able to, acting as a speaker at an event, sharing your insight and expertise and getting your brand name out there can be very powerful. If you really aren’t a fan of the limelight, do this behind the scenes by penning a few informative industry articles and getting them out on sites like LinkedIn – whatever it takes to earn a reputation as a thought leader in your industry.
Invest in R&D
It’s all too easy to lose track of the bigger picture and focus on staying solvent and profitable only in the short term. In today’s fast-paced world where innovation is valued more than ever, having a long-term strategy that lets you stay ahead of the curve and become an innovator yourself is vital. Depending on your company, this could range from investigating R&D funding and tax benefits in your country, partnering with a dedicated research company, or simply hiring a freelancer or additional employee to build you better software. What’s important is keeping one eye on the future and your place in it.
Make sure to deliver really top-notch customer service
No matter how good your product is, if your customer service becomes slack, your reputation suffers and eventually all your hard work might be for nothing. With customers able to leave scathing reviews online that could potentially taint your brand image for years, it’s never been more important to make sure each and every client receives the best service possible. Deal with complaints promptly, fairly and in as transparent a manner as possible, be easily reachable and always ready to help – especially on online channels.
Rethink your hiring and working model
So much can be done online these days, yet the traditional business world has largely failed to take full advantage. If you’ve run out of space for new employees, which of your existing staff could perform their functions from home? Could you hire freelancers or remote workers to fulfill certain tasks?
On the other hand, hiring more interns and training them up to be star performers could be another way to achieve growth without blowing your budget.
Explore outside the box growth options
Sometimes the best way to grow your SME may not be immediately apparent or obvious at all. If you run a highly localized offering, have you ever considered franchising? If the local market is saturated, have you explored moving overseas? If you’re in the sales arena, would you be able to take advantage of already existing global platforms the likes of Amazon to expand your reach internationally? If you’ve got a great product concept but lack the funds to get it built and want to test market interest, might it be worth attempting a crowdfunding campaign? If you’ve got a nifty piece of software, have you explored your licensing options? It’s a brave new world, and sometimes the best solution is far from traditional!