The ‘fear factor’ is falling away for SMEs as they begin to invest in their businesses again – in people, assets and buildings. The danger though, is that they try to run before they can walk and end up under-delivering for key customers.
It’s great to hear my clients talking about new opportunities, rather than simply surviving in the here and now. A word of warning, though – the business of growing an SME today is very different to it was eight years ago.
Businesses have felt pressure to deliver more for less during the recession – often cutting back on staffing, particularly middle management, and relying on third parties or associates.
This reactive business model is about survival, but is too weak to drive growth in your enterprise: go forward with a thin management structure in place and the wheels will soon come off.
Benchmark your business
Throughout the recession, my clients relied on Haines Watts to guide them through the challenges they were facing – and entering a period of growth is no different. You still need support to make it successfully through the next phase of your journey, whether it’s rebuilding your management team or diversifying into new sectors or products and services.
Now is not the time to be looking inwards, but out into the world. By rebuilding your leadership team, you will have the time to think strategically about where your business is heading.
You need a team you can delegate to, rather than drive yourself. You also still need good quality management information, but get this by having the right mechanisms in place, such as a robust reporting process. By making your team accountable and measured, you’ll be able to step away from the day-to-day operations and take a strategic overview of where you’re headed.
An improved economy also means there is more competition for talented people, so it’s essential to get your remuneration and incentive packages right. Make sure you involve your staff in your plans and aspirations, as they will be less likely to move on if they are invested in the future of your business.
A problem shared
At Haines Watts, we work with more owner-managed businesses than any other accountancy firm and our latest focus has been to bring together business people with similar experiences so they can help each other to overcome challenges.
This business community has resonated with our clients over the past six months and provided valuable emotional support for people who are in isolated leadership roles.
We’ve also been helping our clients to benchmark their business performance, which holds a mirror up to how they compare to their competitors and whether the business is set up to perform to a level that meets their expectations.
It might initially be an unflattering view but, by planning to grow now, you will have a better chance of building a business, and lifestyle, that you aspire to.
Find and contact your local Haines Watts office