SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) make up more than 99% of businesses in Europe and much of the rest of the world. Any business with less than 250 employees and a turnover of less than around £44m in the UK is categorised as an SME.
Due to the huge number and variety of SMEs currently in business throughout the UK, this sector could ultimately be the driving force behind the UK’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. From small construction firms to gyms and restaurants, these businesses will play their part in rebuilding the economy.
As we mentioned in a previous article, having an 8-step business plan is crucial from the get-go. And when it comes to building a successful business plan, your company’s vision is central.
In order to create long-lasting success, it’s important that you know where you’re going before you get there. And while this may seem obvious, for many SMEs, it is a lack of vision that contributes to the failure of their business. We recommend that you start with an ambitious, but achievable mission statement which will motivate your employees and your industry partners. It should represent an ideal vision of what the future could and should look like for your company. In order for a solid strategy to be built, this vision statement is an essential first steppingstone.
Successful SMEs will ultimately change this vision regularly as their company progresses. This changing vision will account for business success (or lack thereof) and will encapsulate all that the business will do to create necessary change. For example, consider the vision statements of two world leaders and ask yourself: “did they act on this vision?”.
A vision and a strategy isn’t worth the paper it’s written in if your customers don’t know who you are. Because of this, our next essential step in our guide to building a successful SME is investing in effective and useful marketing.
Importantly, with the huge range of marketing channels now available through the internet, marketing has become much cheaper than ever before. The range of channels available to SMEs is enormous, but we believe these are the best:
Your SME will be ideally placed to benefit directly from campaigns that can achieve real results. These results are also extremely measurable and immediate. As your business begins to build its digital presence and develops a marketing team, it won’t take long for you to discover the best platforms for you.
Crucially, having a simple website may be the most powerful and cost-effective tool an SME can use to advertise its business and make its mark in our digital age. And with sites such as Squarespace and WordPress offering low-cost website templates, creating a fully functional website has also become extremely easy to do.
Without a website, potential customers won’t know who you are. Without social media, they won’t know what you’re up to.
With a social media account on a site such as Facebook or Instagram, you can quickly market your activities to potential customers while showing the work you carry out and your location. With the in-built marketing functions on these platforms such as Facebook’s Facebook Ads, you can also carry out extremely cost-effective marketing campaigns directly through your page. If you’re not using social media in 2021, you could be in for a tough time ahead.
While social networking is important, physical and virtual networking and building industry partnerships is also extremely useful.
For SMEs, professional bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce, and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) represent an amazing source of relevant information. The FSB recently secured a £940 Million reduction in business rates for small firms throughout the UK and they also persuaded the UK government to adopt a reform package to stop late payments.
Networking at relevant industry events and talks be they face to face or virtually will also be an important route for finding more business and building new knowledge to take back to the office. Many such events include workshop sessions where you can either highlight your current work or watch and learn from the competition.