This article is sponsored by Vero Insurance
So you’re up and running and raring to go. Here are a few standout ways to spur your promising enterprise to a sprint.
Want to grow your small business but not sure where to start? Experts say innovation is the pathway to success, and three secret weapons stand out as clever ways to get you ahead of the competition and save you time and money.
Technology, yearly planning and advisory boards are the vital ingredients that experts identify as necessary to supercharge growth.
- Tune into technology
Research shows that small business owners are becoming more tech-savvy and investing in technology. Adopting cloud-based solutions and social media are two low-cost ways to boost your tech power.
“Small business should absolutely embrace technology and digital innovation.
Our research shows this leads to measurable returns for small business in the
short term and into the future,” says the chief financial officer of accounting software firm MYOB, Richard Moore.
A survey conducted by MYOB found that 76 per cent of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) have invested in technology in the past year as a way to innovate. “This is a sizeable percentage for the small business community,” Moore says. The investment was mainly in computer hardware, software, new machinery and training staff, according to a Business Monitor survey of 1000 SMEs (small and medium enterprises).
In contrast, only 22 per cent of companies surveyed have a social media presence, but those that do report an increase in enquiries and say it makes doing business with customers easier.
Migrating to cloud solutions is another popular trend for small businesses, Moore says. MYOB now sells 90 per cent of its cloud accounting solutions online, up from 50 per cent three years ago.
- Devise an annual plan
Managing risk is important in business. With one in three small operators
failing in their first year, it’s important to update your business plan every year to adapt to changing market needs.
“It’s the responsibility of the CEO and executive team to develop a plan for company growth and engage employees in formulating and executing that plan,” says Dr Jana Matthews, ANZ chair in business growth and director of the University of South Australia’s Centre for Business Growth. “It’s also important to set goals for the fiscal year, with two or three tactics to achieve each goal.”
Yearly plans are important because many CEOs don’t realise companies go through different stages of growth, she says.
The ANZ Business Growth Program at the University of SA found that just 20 per cent of CEOs involved in its SME growth-assessment clinics have a plan around how to build their enterprise. Most leaders know how to create a cash-flow forecast but 80 per cent don’t know how to implement it, data collected from 37 CEOs in the ANZ program shows.
Only 3 per cent to 5 per cent of SMEs prepare a business plan or formal feasibility study, which is a major cause of business failure, according to a recent report by the University of Technology in Sydney.
- Enlist the experts
Another way to push your business to the next level is to access external high-level specialist advice through an advisory board. The Australian Institute of Company Directors says this allows SMEs to retain control but draw on the expertise of outsiders who have practical experience in growing a business.
Advisory boards meet six-to-eight times a year and members are usually paid a fee. Advisory board members may help you identify and win new business, chart a realistic strategy and help with new company hires.