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  • Writer's pictureHelen Parker

Don't wait to innovate as an SME

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

The last year or so has changed the way we conduct business as SMEs - probably forever. Out of necessity, businesses have embraced technology and found new ways to work. Many SMEs have rapidly innovated and paved the way for future success. Now is the time to really focus on future proofing your small business, so it's as prepared as possible for upturns, downturns and everything in between.

The path to digitisation

This speedy path to digitisation over the last year has made the small business sector more productive than ever and better prepared to deal with future challenges.

SMEs are are far better equipped to pivot their offering and adapt to challenged - whereas larger businesses have much bigger hoops to jump through. However, if it wasn’t for the lockdowns, this digital adoption and willingness to change would have taken a lot longer.

A new survey by McKinsey finds that responses to COVID-19 have speeded the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.

The disparity between digital haves and have nots has never been greater, but it’s never too late to innovate. The mounting pressure for businesses to fast track their digital transformation journeys has been in overdrive. While the bell has long been chiming for businesses to rapidly adapt, harness the power of data and streamline their digital processes, COVID-19 reprioritised the need for these capabilities. It made these elements of digital strategy essential and at critical pace.

These rewards for the haves are far-reaching and have the potential to revolutionise the way we do business. Looking at retail for example, with COVID impacting how much time customers spend in bricks and mortar stores, the right technology can help businesses upgrade their customer experience model significantly, to support a difficult environment today but that will still be of immense valuable in the future.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen our day-to-day lives transformed by necessity as we adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19, lockdowns and the need for the economy to continue.

The lesson here is we shouldn’t need a pandemic to prompt us to make fundamental improvements to our business processes.

Lead the pack by focussing on the future

Now’s the time for us all to spend time working on the business – not just working in it.

Don’t wait for disaster to innovate – plan ahead now.

We owe it to ourselves to prioritise our own needs and goals and plan for change - or, at the very least, to keep abreast of the change that is happening around us.

The key is to continue thinking about the future. That can be a big ask for businesses who are busy simply trying to keep their heads above water at the moment.

However, if that’s all we do for the next 18 months, by the end of 2022 we won’t be adapting or progressing as fast as others – falling to the back of the pack.

It’s easy to let things slip when you’re busy, so consider ahead of time what you want to do proactively versus reactively and how you’ll allocate time each week to ensure you are proactive.

Tips to move your business forward

Here's 10 recommendations to move your business forward.

  1. Create space to pause, breathe and consider your future – preferably outside of the office

  2. Consider your personal goals and the organisation’s current mission and purpose. Do these need to be adjusted or tweaked?

  3. Think where you want to be in six months, 12 months, 24 months and why. Include culture, wellbeing and satisfaction levels, not just financial goals.

  4. Think where you’d like to be in the following horizon of 3-5 years. Sometimes it’s easier to start here and work backwards to shorter time frames.

  5. Consider how you will internally communicate this plan with the wider team. It’s important for all to have a shared understanding. Your team will also help you reach your goals.

  6. Create a more detailed 6-12 month plan. Include operationally how you will get there, who’s responsible and allocate some initial milestones and targets or key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success.

  7. Book a future time to check in, follow up and re-assess, adjust or tweak the plan. Once a month is recommended.

  8. Celebrate success at each milestone. We don’t celebrate success enough, yet it’s a shared experience to invigorate you as a business owner and the team.

  9. Create a customer journey of how you currently service customers. Are you available, able to assist and 'on it' digitally?

  10. Get some help to take this further with an expert to fully embed digital into your business - it does not have to be an expensive project. Small steps make a big impact.

Digitisation and adapting to change are the keys to unlocking increased productivity and future proofing your business. With improved flexibility comes faster, more efficient business outcomes.

It took was a global pandemic to kickstart widespread change, but now we’re in a prime position to stay ahead of the curve.

For expert help with your business, digital marketing and growth, get in touch today for a no obligation chat.

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