#1 – Innovate but not as you know it
When most businesses hear the word innovation they tend to think about technology, or how they create their next product or process. But innovation isn’t all about ideation, technology and widgets. Actually, it means ways to create value from ideas.
In many cases this starts with doing more with the same and innovating a business model. For most businesses there are lots of opportunities to create more value from existing products, produced by existing technologies, in existing markets.
#2 – Adopt technology to grow
Technology is important too! We live in an information age, but a large proportion of SMEs are digitally disconnected, and therefore not realising their full potential. One in four microbusinesses still use no tech at all.
This isn’t about rolling out industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence for them, but basic technologies that can really drive growth. For example, CRM, cloud-based computing, accountancy software, e-commerce and computer aided design are among the top technologies proven to increase productivity for microbusinesses.
#3 – Unlock people power
Everyone knows the adage that “people are your greatest asset”. Yet there is still overwhelming evidence that many businesses are not making the most of their people. The OECD estimates that poor management costs UK business £84bn a year.
This isn’t about making employees work harder, but rather engaging staff in the business and making more of their experience and insight. Research indicates that if SMEs focused on developing good management and leadership skills and practices, they could increase productivity, turnover and employment.
So, it could be time to look around and ask yourself if your team’s talents are being used to the max. Are you getting the best from them? How might improving leadership and management help?
#4 – Plug into a network
Being an owner-manager can be lonely. It can be easy to shoulder all kinds of problems on your own. But you are not alone.
Taking time out to build relationships and meet other SMEs and people in your sector is one of the most valuable investments you can make. It can help you gain useful insight, new customers and collaborations. Crucially, it can also help you feel more supported and connected, which is important for reducing stress and protecting your own mental health.
IOEE Membership is a great way to connect with other business owners in similar positions, ask questions and help build your network to those in similar markets. Find out more about IOEE Membership here.
#5 – Build an emergency fund
A general rule of thumb according to financial planners is to have three to six months’ worth of living expenses (after taxes) in an emergency savings fund. Are you prepared? And if you own a business, you might want to have an even larger emergency fund, in case your business takes a downturn or in case you have seasonal fluctuations in cash flow.
What if you lost your biggest client and had to take a pay cut? How long would your personal emergency savings last? And remember you’re not trying to earn a big yield on this money; you just need it to be there in case of emergency.