Archives For 17/10/2013

I could easily give you the six secrets to SME success, and right now you are probably thinking, oh yeah that sounds great! I admit I love those articles too, the ones listing the top tips for ultimate and far-reaching success. Let’s face it, most of those articles are written by people who have never owned a SME business.

Come on… we need to get real. There are so many of these articles floating around on the internet nowadays. While they are usually a nice read and a good reminder of what we should be doing, how many of us have actually actioned anything after reading them?

So before we go any further – I need to be honest with you because as a SME business owner, I know you are busy. (Deep breath)… there are no six secret to SME success. I just said that so you would start reading this article, BUT stick with me, because what I am going to write could save your business – or make your business even more successful. Yes – I am that confident.

If you don’t have a coffee, tea or bubbly in front of you, I think you should stop reading… get one… and come back with a notepad, ready to take action.

What I am going to write about is going to help you build your business, no matter the industry and no matter whether you sell a product or a service.

The greatest business danger
For our businesses to survive, we need to change our mindset on how business works. Humour me. Get up out of the chair and physically step back out of your business – look at it critically from an external perspective (that is, remove any emotion) and ask yourself. Is your way of doing business dying? Most of us (if we are being honest with ourselves) should answer yes.

I know it is scary, it’s ok, it is only me listening right now, but the sooner you are honest with yourself, the sooner you can start saving the business you have carefully nurtured and built. For those who have owned your business for more than 10 years, you will find this process more difficult.

We live in a changing world and change is coming quicker than ever before, BUT I firmly believe that with every change comes opportunity. First, we need to stop thrashing our existing business model when it is clearly suffering a slow death. Secondly, stop blaming others; the economy, online sales and cheaper providers – we need to take control back. We need to adapt, evolve, move and modify our business, to take advantage of new technologies, systems, relationships, connections and products.

Are you ready?
Recently at a business conference, researcher and author, Jim Collins said “The greatest danger for business is not failure. The greatest danger for business is to be successful without understanding how you became successful.” Collins went on to add “Arrogance and success can be the enemy for any business because you miss the early warning signs.”

Are you ‘that’ business? Are you missing the warning signs?

Collins said developing ‘a bit of paranoia’ in business can keep you sharp. So how can we create a healthy amount of paranoia in our business? I suggest you start with your customers. Are you losing them? Are they going elsewhere? Do you know why? Do you know who your customers are? What they like and don’t like about your business? Can you honestly answer these questions? Many can’t, because it takes courage to listen and be ready to change. It takes courage to build a business not about you, rather build a business for your customers.

If you are not close to your customers; and know what they want and how they want it – you are losing relevance with them and your bottom-line is suffering because of it.

We all know (or should know) that being agile and moving with your customers is the key to this rollercoaster ride we call business success. Reinforcing your relevance with your customers by knowing what they want and delivering it – are the two key ingredients to thriving in today’s moving global economy.

The key advantage for SME’s is that we are (or should) be able to evolve and be agile much faster than bigger business – this can be a source of competitive advantage for our survival.

Are you open to change?
Are you ready to ask your customers what they want from you and truly listen to their opinions?
Are you ready to potentially turn your business model on its head and consider new ways of operating to keep your relevance, fight off competitors and deliver what your customers actually want?

If you are, (awesome!) my next article will help you in this new era of customer engagement.

If you are not… just keep drinking the bubbly…

(This article was first featured on the Australian Business Advisory website http://www.australianbusinessadvisory.com.au)