Just because you are running a small business doesn’t mean you should have a small business mindset. Setting your enterprise up as if it were a big business is the foundation for making your SME a success.
I believe in starting as you intend to finish. And, if you wish to grow and thrive in our ever-demanding world, this is the mind-set you need to employ.
Setting the structures
If you run a professional well-oiled business, no matter what the size, people will take you seriously. Process engineering my business from the ground up was the best thing I ever did.
From the initial call coming into reception to the final sign off, every step needs to be mapped out, tracked and reported on. This is the foundation for a great business.
The benefits of having processes, checks and balances, can be massive for a business, especially when approaching the growth phase – where control is critical to success.
Goals & accountability
Create a company goal with realistic targets and budgets, then align each person in the business, including yourself, using clear KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).
Clarity and communication is key, this ensures everyone knows what must be done to drive the business.
Make sure you set monthly EXCO/management meetings, with an agenda to review each department’s performance in relation to the company goals. Each person needs to be completely accountable, so avoid duplication of roles or responsibility.
Give up the short-term mind-set
Long term goals will determine where you will finish, but achieving them is done in small measurable results. It’s important not to be overwhelmed by big long-term goals.
How do you eat an elephant? In bite size chunks! Setting these goals into monthly and quarterly segments will allow you to track and manage them and ensure you stay on track.
Never allow yourself to make up the results next month, this is a slippery slope to constantly playing catch up.
Achieving set goals need to be the minimum, and a culture of over achieving will secure this.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure
Making proactive decisions means having up-to-date, accurate information on hand. There are many affordable, and even free, software systems that allow you to manage and track the performance of each department, just like an enterprise multinational.
Take sales for example. The art of selling is about managing the numbers. From building the pipeline to ratios through the sales process, all of which can be managed through software which provides live dashboards that display the activity and efficiency of the sales person or department.
This can even be achieved on Microsoft Excel; there is really no excuse for this not to be done in every department, and the company as a whole.
Overcome your fear
Most people fail to act fast enough to the information on hand. The reason for this is most often fear. Fear of confrontation, fear of change, fear of backing yourself and making a decision. Be decisive but not irrational, making long term decisions will ultimately build a strong thriving business.
The key to moving your SME into a corporate is playing above your weight. In order to move up the value chain, you constantly need to take on competition that are bigger and stronger than you.
Finding ways to offer more value than the competition will ultimately mean you can generate more revenue. You constantly need to assess your market and customer, and ensure you have more to offer.
Being smaller is often an advantage, it means being nimble and adapting to changes and customer needs faster. But, changes and strategy need to be well thought out, this cannot be flaky, so do your research.
Hundreds of huge corporates started out as SMEs, and, with the right mind-set and corporate culture in place, there’s no reason why yours can’t thrive too.
By playing the long-game and growing from the ground up, SME business owners have the power to create companies that evolve with the times and expand through insight. The real question is; do you dare to dream big enough?