cog diagram explaining customer analysis to growth strategies

Strategic Planning Tips for running SMEs

It’s a harsh way to look at being in business, but the reality is that you learn more about running a business from your mistakes than your successes. Sharing some key points may help you.

  1. Owning a business & being self employed may seem the same thing. But owning a business means that you are making money even when you are not working, and you have time for other things like family, hobbies and holidays without the business stopping. When you are self –employed, you are it. If you aren’t working, nothing gets done, and you don’t generate income. When it comes to peace of mind and security, owning a business can be much more fulfilling that being self -employed – even if it does take more planning and effort to get there.
  2.  First thing every day you should attempt to carry out at least one marketing activity. Doing it early will ensure so that it will be completed. This could be calling a customer, reviewing your advertising program, doing comparison checks on your competitors, updating your social media pages or writing a blog for your website. Make sure that as far as practical, you program yourself to do it, and stay ahead of your market competitors
  3.  Test the market before you create a product or service. Many people spend months or years on fine tuning their pet project, only to find after launching into the market that hardly anyone is interested. At the start, it is probably better to create your promotional activities, and produce “on demand” if anyone buys.
  4. Making ground rules for your business is important. No working nights, no working weekends, setting aside time for family & school activities.
  5. Change, however difficult it may seem, will probably be worth the effort. And often the changes that come with bad news or hard times are the most worthwhile ones of all. Just remember, the first time you try something new it’s probably going to be daunting , unpredictable and possibly place you way outside of your comfort zone. The good news is that it gets easier as you go forward.
  6. Waiting for new customers to arrive one-by-one can be a long, slow road. Instead, explore connecting with local business and community organizations whose members (or their clients) may need the specific services that you provide. Done effectively, just one connection may multiply the number of new potential customers by a factor of 5 or 10 times.
  7. It is important to focus on your strengths. Most people can readily identify their weaknesses and can spend valuable time concentrating on them. But with your business, a positive attitude is required to work on what you are best at, and leave the negative bits to others.
  8. Outsourcing as an alternative to hiring staff should be given consideration in certain businesses. It may initially prove easier (and cheaper) to hire independent business professionals instead of employees, mainly because their work has a direct impact on their own business success. As the business grows, it may better allow you to determine your staffing requirements.
  9. It may seem a good idea to go it alone, but life can be a lot easier if you have support when building a business. That may not be a business partner. But there is wealth of knowledge to be gained from ex-business people, mentors, coaches—or just someone you can meet with for a coffee, or call from time to time, to shoot the breeze on ideas that can prove invaluable.
  10. Moving your business forward means spending time working ON the business, rather than working IN the business. Allocating a couple of hours each week to review business strategies, marketing campaigns, promotional plans and developing new markets will allow you to maintain an overview of progress.

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