Innovate and know how to drive the business forward

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1. Know where you add value. As the leader of a SME it’s important to know how you can keep driving the company forward. Aim to work more “on” as opposed to “in” the business.

2. Keep innovating. Create fresh ideas, seek growth in new markets and geographic areas.

Visit exhibitions, spearhead creative marketing campaigns and harness social media to engage with both new and existing audiences.

3. Ensure your pricing strategy manages inflation and maintains margins.

As budgets will be tight, know your costs and set in place a price increase system.

4. Find out what customers value about doing business with you. Being a small business you can optimise being friendly and approachable.

Make time for customers to understand their aspirations and challenges.

Customers who value consistency of supply, flexibility and product development will accept price rises.

5. Tighten up your working capital management.

Plan your requirements and secure fixed term loans that will be more cost effective.

6. Conserve working capital. Shorten processes and consider outsourcing non-core processes. Keep stock to a minimum and keep debtors’ days to no more than 45.

7. Jettison underperformers. Don’t hang on to underperformers hoping they will improve. Having a smaller team means you need quality players.

8. Nurture top talent. For a SME to flourish, developing and training staff is key. Seek out their ideas and set in place a performance-based recognition and reward system.

9. Look after yourself. An SME leader’s wellbeing is critical to the performance and success of the business. Find a hobby you enjoy, spend quality time with your family and friends.

10. Plan your exit. Slow business growth makes exiting very appealing – but is your business “fit for sale”?

Work out how much money you need to live on and if you still need a stake in the business.