Companies are being challenged as never before to adapt at speed in the face of relentless innovation.
So how do SME’s stay ahead when the competition is accelerating? Not merely by adapting to changing conditions, but doing so quickly and decisively.
One of our Leeds members stated, at a recent Business Exposure Group meeting, that he is fine with his products and services for the next 2 years, but is fearful for the future as he has no idea which of his products and services will be relevant in 5 years’ time and this is a worry when he runs a £2m turnover business with 19 employees. It’s quite a responsibility!
The discussion at the group meeting centred around five key questions:-
- How much growth do we need and how fast?
- How much growth is left in our core markets?
- How secure are we in our core market?
- What opportunities do we have to grow existing business?
- What new market opportunities do we have?
Some of the points raised were as follows:-
- It is fundamental to understand your competitor environment
- We must use customer insight to drive growth
- The trick is to be agile and persistent, but with a realisation to exit flat business ideas, rather than holding on and hoping they will turn good
- If you can’t comfortably hit your 5 year business plan with your core business, then you need a second act, one which operates beyond the core business
- Embrace the non-conformist in your business, because although they are difficult to manage, they often show the most promise and can help the business adapt at speed
Although fast, innovative business seems to be flavour of the month, it was commented that innovation often has a short shelf life and goes sour like milk. With that as a backdrop many of our members felt that a more ‘controlled expansion’ was appropriate to their businesses, so that cash flow was not put under pressure, staff remained happy and not overburdened, systems were able to cope, quality was maintained and complaints were kept to a minimum. The reality is that core values diminish as a business grows, and if it happens too fast then cracks start to appear. But, whatever your stance, it’s important for your business to be agile, with a rapid cycle between strategies and feedback. Between an idea and having it in the market, in order to work out what works and what doesn’t.
The Monday morning sales meeting historically talked about how the business did last week. Now, we need to discuss how we did by customer segment and by product segment so that we can push our limited resources in the direction where we will get the quickest wins allowing growth at a speed we are comfortable with.